BELLS Line Expressway Group chairman Ian Armstrong has dismissed Infrastructure NSW’s 20 year strategy as Sydney-centric and narrow.
Mr Armstrong said the report grossly underestimated how fast Sydney is growing and did not acknowledge the vital role better road links to the central west would have to supply food to the city.
The strategy recommended a corridor for the Bells Line of Road should be set aside which Mr Armstrong said at least acknowledged that the upgrade was needed.
But, he had hoped for a far greater commitment to the project.
“There is no doubt business is done in the Sydney CBD itself, but Sydney is fed from Kelso and Orange and Cowra,” he said.
“There is no physical capacity to expand in the Sydney basin. They’ll have to come over the Blue Mountains.”
“Unless Sydney can get food in via road they’ll starve.”
Mr Armstrong said he met with Premier Barry O’Farrell on Friday and told him the plan had not factored in the Sydney’s physical capacity to accommodate its future population.
The report said the Bells Line of Road’s low traffic volumes - of less than 5000 vehicles per day - made an investment in the link difficult to justify.
But, Mr Armstrong said traffic would increase if the road was brought up to scratch.
“If you’ve got a bush turkey track you won’t get the traffic,” he said.
He said some potential users of the road such as Cowra residents were choosing to travel to Sydney via Goulburn to avoid the “danger factor” of the Bells Line.
The challenging terrain of the road was also identified as another reason to avoid the expansion as construction costs could outweigh the potential benefits.
But Mr Armstrong rejected the suggestion saying the sooner the road was built the cheaper it would be.
“It’s a very immature statement to make,” he said.
“If governor Lachlan Macquarie could do it ... why can’t we do it today.”
“They built it by hand with convicts before explosives we’re used.”
In his proposal to Infrastructure NSW, Mr Armstrong suggested two ways the expressway could be funded - either wholly by taxpayers, by the roads users through tolls, or by a combination of the two.
“I’ve spoke to the heavy vehicle industry and they’re more than happy to pay,” he said.
Mr Armstrong said currently drivers had to choose between the dangerous Bells Line of Road or the slow Great Western Highway.
“There are 42 speed changes in 76 kilometres during school hours on the Great Western Highway and you’ve got a 12 per cent increased chance of being killed on the Bells Line than any other road,” he said.