THE long-awaited Bells Line expressway is no closer to becoming a reality with the costs of upgrading the challenging terrain expected to outweigh the benefits, according to Infrastructure NSW’s 20 year strategy for the state.
Despite the negative assessment, the report released earlier this week, recommends that a potential corridor be set aside for the Bells Line of Road.
Regional NSW and the central west in particular have been largely ignored by the report prepared by an independent body set-up by NSW government.
Orange only received one mention in the 212 page document.
Sydney was the big winner, with the report recommending $21 billion worth of projects while only $9 billion was proposed for the rest of the state.
Freight operator David Ferguson from Ferguson Freighters welcomed the $300 million Bridges for the Bush program to upgrade rural bridges which he says will reduce the number of heavy vehicles on the road as each truck will be able to carry more.
Mr Ferguson said he avoids the dangerous Bells Line of Road.
“I’ve asked a couple of drivers not to use it,” he said.
“It has a lot of traps for young drivers.”
Mr Ferguson was disappointed there were no recommendations to upgrade regional highways in the central west including the stretch of the Mitchell Highway between Orange and Molong.
“It would be about the most dangerous piece of road for hundreds of kilometres,” he said.
“It belongs in the 1950s.
“It should be a priority.”
He described the report’s claim that regional roads were “performing adequately in terms of ride quality” as spin.
But he agreed that journey speeds were adequate, saying he had noticed a dramatic decrease in the time it takes to drive to Sydney over the years.
Overall Mr Ferguson believed it was fair that more than twice the amount of funding was proposed for Sydney because of the higher number of people in the metropolitan areas.
“It’s all very well for people in the country to say they’re not getting their fair share, but I think they are when you look at it per capita,” he said.
Recommendations from the report have been largely geared towards road infrastructure which Mr Ferguson said was reflective of road travel’s dominance over rail as a faster method of travel.