WITH 90 people in attendance from across the central west, the issues raised at Thursday’s transport forum were wide-ranging but the need for a faster, safer link to Sydney was one thing everyone agreed on.
Murmurs in the crowd called for action instead of ongoing studies and reports into the Bells Line Expressway.
Politicians, mayors, and councillors mixed with transport operators and members of the public to identify the challenges and the desired outcomes for the state’s transport master plan.
Roads Minister Duncan Gay reinterated his support for the Bells Line Expressway but told the packed crowd he couldn’t say when it would be built.
He said a report into the road’s viability, commissioned by the previous government, would be released in coming weeks.
“Yes we support it,” he said.
“[But] there’s some issues [in the report] that I find hard to take.”
Bells Line Expressway Group member Ian Macintosh questioned the high cost of road building in the state.
Mr Gay said costs for many road projects were tied up with “red tape and green tape”.
“We’re pulling our hair out,” he said.
“Gladys [Berejiklian] has had the same trouble with rail.”
“I think we have had overenginerring to some degree in the past ... it’s about the balance between building it too big and building it strong enough.”
Orange mayor John Davis said the challenge was to improve access between Sydney and the central west as soon as possible.
“We need a government, federal or state, or a champion of road access to metropolitan areas to say we want it built now,” he said.
“All it’s doing is stifling development in our area.”
Cr Davis said improved access would help relieve the over-populated areas of Sydney.
Orange councillor Fiona Rossiter believes a tunnel through the Blue Moutains is the best option for the Bells Line expressway.
“Bore a hole through, it’s quick, it’s easy and you’ve got services out here that could do it,” she said.
“If you had a tunnel through the Bells Line more freight would use that so you’d hope to see decreased fatalities.”