The Review of Environmental Factors (REF) and concept design have been released for the Australian Government’s planned $2 billion upgrade to the Great Western Highway, with the community invited to submit feedback. 

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Barnaby Joyce, said the Australian Government’s $2 billion commitment to the Great Western Highway upgrade would help transform the vital transport link into a smoother, safer passageway for motorists.

“Thousands of motorists rely on the Great Western Highway every day and we are helping fund the upgrades these drivers need and deserve, to ensure they can reach their destination safely and smoothly every time,” Mr Joyce said.

New South Wales Deputy Premier, Paul Toole, said the New South Wales Government was investing $2.5 billion to transform the Great Western Highway by upgrading it to a four-lane highway between Little Hartley and Lithgow to ensure safer, smoother journeys for the main link between the Central West and Sydney.

“This upgrade has been on the books since 2013, when we identified the corridor and reserved it in both the Blue Mountains and Lithgow City Councils’ plans, and now we’re making it a reality, which is massive news for everyone who uses this section of the highway,” Mr Toole said.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the community to help design the biggest road upgrade the Hartley Valley has ever seen, and, alongside the Central and East sections of the Great Western Highway upgrade, will see more than 100km of safe, modern dual-carriageway all the way to Sydney.

“This will mean traffic can flow smoothly and travel time for motorists will be reduced, so they can get to where they need to go quicker than ever before.

“The upgrade will include new intersections and also make use of the existing highway as a service road to maintain access to local roads and properties for locals. The eastbound and westbound rest areas will also be set back into the landscape to reduce their visual impact.

“We’ve listened to the community and made a number of design changes to ensure we protect the historic village of Hartley which is a significant piece of local history and our state’s heritage.”

Federal Member for Calare, Andrew Gee, said the release of the REF and the concept design was an important milestone for the upgrade.

“Everyone has a horror story of being stuck in traffic coming over the mountains, with vehicles travelling at walking pace, backed up for hours,” Mr Gee said.

“Each day, about 11,000 vehicles travel on the Great Western Highway between Little Hartley and Lithgow. 

“This large volume of freight, tourist and general traffic is only expected to increase as more and more people visit country New South Wales and make their move from the city to Western New South Wales.

“The Australian Government knows just how important the Great Western Highway is in connecting regional New South Wales with Sydney, which is why we have committed more than $2 billion towards the East and West sections of this game-changing upgrade.

“We’re proposing this upgrade because motorists shouldn’t have to be stuck in traffic along the highway, be delayed at intersections, or go long stretches without safe opportunities to overtake.

“It’s really important that the community has input into the project, so I would strongly encourage anyone with an opinion to have their say.

“Because of the volume of design material, the REF for Katoomba to Blackheath will be displayed separately, in early 2022.”

New South Wales Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Premier, Sam Farraway, said it was vital that the locals who live, move and work around the Great Western Highway help shape this legacy project.

“This is a history-making project that will unlock new opportunities for the Central West and strengthen the connection to Sydney,” Mr Farraway said.

“This work will move this critical project a step closer to becoming a reality.”

The REF and concept design will be on display until Wednesday, 22 December.

The community can review the REF online here, or at Lithgow City Council Administration Centre and Lithgow Library Learning Centre.

Once submissions have been received, they will be reviewed before a submissions report is released and the REF is determined.

More information is available here.

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