Central NSW Councils (CENTROC) renew calls for Bells Line Expressway to Sydney

Central NSW councils have vowed to lobby government to include the project in its 40 year plan.
Central NSW councils have vowed to lobby government to include the project in its 40 year plan.

A failure by the state government to mention the Bells Line Expressway in its transport plan for the next 40 years has motivated a renewed push for the project.

The Transport 2056 draft report failed to mention the expressway or any other option to improve traffic flow over the Blue Mountains.

The Central NSW Councils organisation (CENTROC) has vowed to lobby the state government until they understand the importance of the project.

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“It was concerning to see it was overlooked in the Transport 2056 draft so our objective is to get it listed in the final document,” the head of CENTROC’s Strategic Transport Group, Parkes mayor Ken Keith, said.

“What they did in the draft was combine Central West and Orana and then propose to upgrade the Golden Highway to Newcastle thinking that would solve the issue but that extends the trip to Sydney by about three hours so it doesn’t work at all. It’s a crazy suggestion.

“The central west is the only region in NSW that doesn’t have an expressway into Sydney.”

Councillor Keith said the Great Western Highway was supposed to play that role but while all other expressways gave motorists a direct link to Sydney, the Great Western was also responsible for the flow of local traffic, and tourists heading to the Blue Mountains.

He said there were too many speed limit changes and traffic lights to make it a direct link.

CENTROC chairman and Lachlan Shire mayor John Medcalf said the only option was to keep talking to governments until they saw the value of a more direct route.

He said there was benefits for the capital as well as western NSW.

“The way Sydney is going and with the development of Western Sydney, we see the expressway as a release valve into western NSW,” Cr Medcalf said.

Options include an expressway over the Great Dividing Range, or tunnelling under it, Cr Medcalf said, and all alternatives should be looked at.

“We’d like to see the corridor secured and the funding coming forward,” Cr Medcalf said.

“Whether it is a road or a tunnel, securing the corridor should be the priority and we have a meeting with Melinda Pavey coming up to talk to her about our position.”

Mr Keith said the Expressway project had stagnated in recent years, and Transport 2056 in its draft form was a step backwards but said the government could be swayed.