04 May 2021
TRISH DOYLE MP
Member for Blue Mountains
TOO MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS IN HIGHWAY PIPE DREAM
Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle is surprised by yesterday’s announcement by the NSW Liberal Government of an 11km tunnel under Blackheath and Mount Victoria as part of the Great Western Highway duplication project.
“A tunnel under Blackheath isn’t a silver bullet for congestion in the Upper Mountains, and despite the astronomical sums of money involved, the proposed length of tunnel will only shift the traffic problem from one town to the next,” Ms Doyle said.
“There are too many unanswered questions but with local elected representatives and the community at large being shut out of consultations and briefings, we’ve not had the opportunity to really drill down into what this project will mean for the entire Blue Mountains or what the true cost will be,” Ms Doyle added “The best case scenario is that the Ten Billion Dollar Tunnel will shave ten minutes off the time it takes to get from Penrith to Lithgow, but at a billion dollars per minute it’s easy to think of better ways to spend this eye-watering sum of money,” Ms Doyle said.
The Government cannot adequately quantify the environmental impacts of a decade-long drilling programme or the significant congestion and noise caused by thousands upon thousands of trucks carrying trailers full of tunnel-boring spoil out of the dive-sites. What parts of our World Heritage listed National Park will they cut up? Will they whack a toll on the tunnel like they’ve done with every other road infrastructure project?
There are also unanswered fears amongst Medlow Bath residents that a tunnel on the eastern end of Blackheath will condemn their village to becoming a motorway-siding for the foreseeable future, spoiling the wide boulevard layout of the Great Western Highway between the heritage railway station and the Hydro-Majestic Hotel.
The tunnelling project through the twisty sections of Highway in the Upper Blue Mountains would also allow the State Government to lift the restriction which currently applies to the entirety of the Great Western Highway between Penrith and Lithgow and allow full-length B-Doubles to travel through every Mountains village for the first time, including towns like Blaxland, Faulconbridge and Lawson.
“From the very beginnings of this project I have been asking for transparency and for the State Government to present a business case that would offer some kind of reassurance this project is being considered holistically, including explorations into freight by rail as a solution to the many problems being used to justify the motorway solution,” Ms Doyle said
DATE: TUESDAY 4 MAY 2021