The NSW government has announced they anticipate beginning the $2.5 billion duplication of the Great Western Highway between Katoomba and Lithgow in 2021.
NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads, Paul Toole, said the upgrade would reduce travel times and congestion along the 34km 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 100km.
“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.
The Strategic Corridor Study Area through Blackheath has been identified as a section with considerable environmental, local heritage and engineering obstacles.
“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.”
The NSW government maintains that 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 from 7 November and will close at 5pm on 16 December. It will include nine community information sessions at Katoomba, Medlow Bath, Blackheath, Hartley Valley, Mount Victoria and Lithgow.
Visit the interactive portal to have your say.