Congestion-busting Great Western Highway upgrade powering ahead

Construction on the game-changing Great Western Highway upgrade between Katoomba and Lithgow is on track to start next year, with the Australian and New South Wales Governments now committing funding towards congestion-busting improvements to the journey over the Blue Mountains.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the Australian Government is turbocharging the Great Western Highway Upgrade with a $2.03 billion funding contribution, announced in the 2021-22 Budget, towards the upgrade of the East and West sections of this vital corridor.

“The Australian Government is backing in the plan to transform the Great Western Highway, because we know what a difference this landmark project will make each and every day to the communities west of the Blue Mountains,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

“This project will end the grid-lock and deliver safer, more reliable journeys along the highway.”

Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts Paul Fletcher said this project is one of the largest single new infrastructure investments across Australia, and the Australian Government is committed to seeing it delivered.

“The Great Western Highway upgrade project is expected to support around 3,900 jobs and will draw on local businesses and contractors, as we know how important this is,” Minister Fletcher said.

“We are investing in critical projects like this under our record $110 billion infrastructure investment pipeline, as part of our Economic Recovery Plan to secure Australia’s world-leading economic recovery.”

NSW Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said the upgrade of the East and West sections is already taking shape with the release of designs for the Cox’s River Road intersection and the Medlow Bath upgrade over the next month bringing the project one step closer to construction.

“This is the last major highway out of Sydney that’s not dual-carriageway, and that’s not good enough for the thousands of motorists from Sydney, the Blue Mountains and the Central West who use it daily,” Mr Toole said.

“The NSW Government has put $2.5 billion on the table to transform journeys along the Great Western Highway – and with the Federal Government’s $2 billion funding boost for the East and West sections, a project that has been put in the ‘too hard’ project for far too long is fast coming to life and will see shovels in the ground at the end of next year.

“The NSW Government is also pushing ahead with work on the Central section including

investigations into building Australia’s longest road tunnel from Blackheath to Little Hartley, cutting out the Victoria Pass and Blackheath gridlocks during peak hours.”

Minister for Decentralisation and Regional Education and Federal Member for Calare Andrew Gee said the Australian Government is committed to improving access between Sydney and the Central West as people continue to move to and visit regional NSW, and regional businesses enjoy a boom in productivity.

“Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a real awakening by people in the city as to what lies over the Great Dividing Range, or sandstone curtain, as we like call it. This movement from city to country is bigger than the gold rush and it looks set to continue as Sydney expands westward and the new Western Sydney International Airport takes shape. It’s been a pandemic-driven decentralisation story,” Mr Gee said.

“With more and more people crossing the mountains, congestion will only worsen. Over the Easter holidays, it took both my daughters more than nine hours to get to Orange from Sydney. Many from our region have recent horror stories like this.

“Easing congestion, making this road safer and reducing travel times is why the Australian Government has invested in the East and West sections of the project between Katoomba and

Lithgow, which will be the first to kick off with designs to be released to the community in coming weeks. This means motorists will benefit sooner.”

Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and the Aerotropolis Shayne Mallard said the imminent release of concept designs and the Review of Environmental Factors for the Medlow Bath upgrade show how serious the NSW Government is about delivering a safer, smoother highway.

“As a Blue Mountains resident, I see the congestion that stops locals moving around their own towns, and the impact a single accident can have in closing off the highway for hours at a time, which is why I’m so excited that what was once a ‘too-hard’ project is now a step closer to reality,” Mr Mallard said.

“Medlow Bath has been promised as the first cab off the rank, and with the upcoming release of the REF ahead of construction starting in late 2022, the community can see that we’re delivering on that promise.”

NSW Member for the Legislative Council Sam Farraway said this history making project would unlock new opportunities for the Central West, better connecting local communities with the East Coast.

“This is an investment in critical road infrastructure that will deliver benefits for generations to come,” Mr Farraway said.

Transport for NSW will release the Review of Environmental Factors and the concept designs for the Medlow Bath section of the Great Western Highway upgrade for public consultation in July.

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