The people of Central West NSW will get the honest conversation they deserve on the future of the Bells Line of Road and Great Western Highway, Roads Minister Melinda Pavey has said.
Ms Pavey’s comments came during a visit to the region in the lead up to the NSW Nationals Central Regional Conference in Orange on Saturday.
The NSW government will release costings and timeframes for short and long-term works on the links between the Central West and Sydney in the coming weeks.
Ms Pavey said fears the Castlereagh Corridor, the vital link between Kurrajong and the M7 Motorway wouldn’t be preserved were unfounded, with an announcement due soon.
“I understand the community’s passion for this.
“This is has been a subject of vigorous discussion since Ian Armstrong and Mick Clough joined together to put it on government’s agenda,” she said.
“I accept there has been a hell of a lot of talk and I can understand why the community might be frustrated that action isn’t there.”
She met the Central NSW Councils (Centroc) on Friday night before travelling to Orange for Politics in the Pub at the Parkview Hotel, but said that was just the start of talks.
In the future the discussions may include a public forum on the future of the Great Western Highway and Bells Line of Road.
Centroc has been pushing for a Bells Line Expressway to improve freight and transport links with Sydney.
However Ms Pavey said there were other important projects the region needed and could benefit from, such as getting more freight carried by rail.
“I’ve got transport operators coming to me saying ‘with different routes and better freight lines I can reduce my costs of production by 30 per cent’,” she said.
“I’ve got to listen to those conversations as well as the proposal of an expressway.”
Ms Pavey said it was a balancing act, but she wanted “honest and genuine conversations” with the public.
“We have already trebled the funding out here, it is a real challenge for our government,” she said.
“We are still playing catch-up as well as planning for the future but we will have conversations about the timeframe and the costings of the Bells Line of Road in coming weeks.
“I’m not going to give timeframes that are unrealistic when we have immediate action that we have to take ... on the Great Western Highway.”