By Ellen Hill – Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism
The $48 million upgrade to the Bells Line of Rd would help boost tourism by making the thoroughfare safer for travellers, outgoing Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism chairman Randall Walker has said.
He was speaking after Acting Premier Andrew Stoner and State Roads and Ports Minister Duncan Gay marked the start of works with a sod turning ceremony at Bilpin on the first project in the Corridor Improvement Program, a 1km eastbound overtaking lane on the Bells Line of Rd west of Kurrajong Heights on Wednesday, February 19.
The program will include:
- Seven proposed overtaking lanes between Kurrajong Heights and Mount Tomah and shoulder widening works to improve stopping safety
- New and extended turning lanes where appropriate
- Installation of safety barriers appropriate to community needs
- Minor curve realignments and straightening
- Minor adjustments to identified intersections and driveways
- New rest areas and upgrades to existing rest areas
- Urban landscape design and local environmental improvements
- Improved drainage
- Improved slope stability at identified locations
“Anything that helps make our visitors and locals safer is welcomed by the regional tourism industry,’’ Mr Walker.
“The scenic Bells Line of Rd is one of our most important thoroughfares bringing visitors up through the Hawkesbury into the Blue Mountains areas of Mt Tomah, Mt Wilson, Clarence and either on to Lithgow or across the Darling Causeway to Mt Victoria and the southern side of the upper Blue Mountains.
“With roadwork continuing along our other major route (the Great Western Hwy), the Bells Line of Rd is the only alternate vehicular path across the Blue Mountains.
“Both roads together create a picturesque round circuit scenic drive offering a variety of views and showcasing the spectacular Blue Mountains from two different vantage points.
“Tourism businesses in the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Central West are excited at the prospect of two major roads bringing customers to their doorsteps faster, easier and safer.
“On the other hand, the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and beyond will be an even closer, more accessible daytrip or short break destination.’’
Mr Stoner said the Bells Line of Rd project, funded through Restart NSW and Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) reflected the State Government’s commitment to rebuilding infrastructure in regional areas.
Mr Gay said the RMS would advise residents of upcoming work including vegetation removal, adjustments to utilities, sign installation and line marking.
“Work to build the overtaking lane between Patterson Ridge Fire Trail and Glenara Road at Kurrajong Heights aims to reduce this crash risk and is expected to be completed by October this year, weather permitting.
Further proposals from North Richmond to Lithgow will be developed over the next 12 months.
“The Bells Line of Road Corridor Improvement Program is the most significant investment on this strategic corridor in a generation and aims to benefit residents and visitors travelling between the Sydney metropolitan area and the central west of NSW,’’ Mr Gay said.
The $48 million program is additional to record levels of funding for country roads including more than $435 million committed to continue upgrading the Great Western Highway to a four lane expressway east of Katoomba, with other improvements between Katoomba and Bathurst, since April 2011.
Go to http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/roadprojects/projects/sydney_region/outer_west_blue_mtns/bells_line_road_planning/ for more information about the Bells Line of Road Corridor Improvement Program.