The community will help shape plans for the $2.5 billion duplication of the Great Western Highway between Katoomba and Lithgow, which will deliver a safer, faster route over the Blue Mountains.
NSW Nationals Regional Transport and Roads Minister Paul Toole said the upgrade would reduce travel times and congestion along the 34 kilometre route.
“As someone who drives the Great Western Highway each week, I know how much of a game-changer this project will be for safety and congestion, especially in communities like Medlow Bath, Blackheath and Mount Victoria,” Mr Toole said.
“It will deliver a safer, faster route over the mountains and dramatically improve connectivity with the Central West.”
Mr Toole said the Great Western Highway was the last main corridor out of Sydney to be upgraded and once complete would see dual carriageway in both directions for almost 100 kilometres.
“We took a promise to the election to build this because we know it is crucial for better connections to the Central West and improving productivity,” Mr Toole said.
“We’ve always said it will be a complex project, which is why we’re involving the community in the design from day one.”
Mr Toole said a proposed corridor between Mount Victoria and Forty Bends had been reserved in 2013, and was part of both Blue Mountains City Council and Lithgow City Council’s Local Environment Plans.
“We recognise the challenges of this. We need to work around steep topography, the rail line, minimise impacts on the environment and preserve the heritage and character of these communities. That’s why we want the community’s feedback.”
Member for Bathurst Paul Toole
The project will not impact on the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, and impacts on the Blue Mountains National Park will be avoided or minimised where possible.
Mr Toole said the project was in the early stages of planning and design, with construction expected to commence in 2021 and to be completed in 2028.
Community consultation will take place until Monday, December 16. It will include nine community information sessions at Katoomba, Medlow Bath, Blackheath, Hartley Valley, Mount Victoria and Lithgow.
- In 2013, a corridor for the upgrade of the Great Western Highway between Mount Victoria and Forty Bends was reserved in both the Blue Mountains City Council and Lithgow City Council Local Environment Plans (LEPs).
- The Strategic Corridor Study Area through Blackheath has been identified as a section with considerable environmental, local heritage and engineering challenges. Options are still to be decided for Blackheath and require further community consultation, environmental assessments, and technical studies.
- The project will be delivered in phases, with the first section anticipated to see shovels in the ground in 2021, subject to planning approvals.
- Once the Katoomba to Lithgow upgrade is complete, almost 100km of the Great Western Highway would be two lanes in each direction between Emu Plains and Wallerawang.
Recent Investments in the Great Western Highway
- Since 2012, the Australian and NSW Governments have invested $250 million in priority safety upgrades along the Great Western Highway at Blackheath, Mount Victoria and Forty Bends.
- In 2017, $104 million of works was completed on the Great Western Highway at Kelso.
- In 2018, the NSW Government announced a further $30 million to upgrade the Great Western Highway from Kelso to Raglan.