STOP PRESS: No chance of an expressway for the hicks over the range

WHAT WE'VE GOT: Columnist Denis Gregory argues that any claim to get an expressway upgrade to the Bells Line of Road will fail. Photo: LITHGOW MERCURY
WHAT WE'VE GOT: Columnist Denis Gregory argues that any claim to get an expressway upgrade to the Bells Line of Road will fail. Photo: LITHGOW MERCURY

There’s not the slightest chance in the world any government will empty the bank account to turn the Bells Line of Road into a four-lane expressway.

For starters we live in the bush, still looked on by many politicians as somewhere in the never-never out there past Penrith and a place they usually only visit to drum up support when an election is looming, so to give us a multi-billion dollar motorway is definitely not on their agenda.

Besides, a report in November 2005 by the NSW and federal governments found the then $3 billion motorway was not justified.

While the proposed road was viable from an engineering perspective it was not justified on economic, social or environmental grounds, along with concerns it would impact on national parks and World Heritage-listed wilderness areas.

The report said the Great Western Highway was the more developed road and was part of the AusLink route between Sydney and Dubbo.

So there’s little doubt development and initiative in regional NSW is being restricted by city bureaucrats who still portray us as slow-talkers who wear big hats and tweed coats, drive a ute with a cattle dog in the back and live in dusty towns.

An easy alternative to Bells Line is for the RMS to reduce the dozens of speed limits over the mountains on the Great Western Highway that would cut travelling time by 20 minutes or so.

But rail is the logical answer. Straighten the western line between Orange and Lithgow and get on with giving us our new trains and a better timetable and we wouldn’t need a Bells Line expressway.

LOOKING FOR MCBETTERTRANSPORTFACE

TALKING about trains, three months ago this column had a dig at Transport Minister Andrew Constance over his naming of a new Sydney ferry Ferry McFerryface that he’s now scrapped in favour of May Gibbs.

We reckoned it was good enough to give the minister some of his own back because he hasn’t shown a lot of interest in country rail.

So to get his attention we’ll continue to call our obsolete XPT Wornouttrainy McWornouttrainyface.

Please, Mr Constance, we need Bettertransport McBettertransportface out here.

PUMPED-UP MEMORIES OF A LONG-PAST SERVICE

SO we’re getting another self-serve petrol station in Peisley Street.

It’s interesting to note a new law has just made it legal for people in rural Oregon in the United States to pump their own petrol and it was met with panic and outrage, inspiring a flood of 60,000 protests online.

People said it would leave them smelling of fumes and having ‘run-ins with transients’. One driver said he’d lived in Oregon all his life and would refuse to pump his own petrol, a service only qualified people should perform. He’d park at the pump and wait until someone filled his tank.

Can you remember when Orange petrol stations were service stations? A cheerful attendant filled your tank, checked the oil, water and tyres and for good measure cleaned the windscreen. And probably had a tip for Saturday’s races.

Now the only attendant in sight stands behind the cash register to take your hard-earned cash and there’s not the slightest hint whatsoever of any service despite ridiculously high prices of more than $1.40 a litre.

So a trip to a self-serve petrol station is a bleak experience. Suck it up you Yanks.

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