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 communities in the Blue Mountains and west of the Divide,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

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

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 Australian Government’s $2 billion funding boost for the East and West sections, a project that has been put in the ‘too hard’ basket 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 Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts Paul Fletcher said this project is one of the largest single new infrastructure investments across Australia.

“The Great Western Highway upgrade is a significant project with far reaching benefits for the community, supporting more than 2,500 jobs and involving local businesses and contractors,” Minister Fletcher said.

“By alleviating congestion along critical roads like this, we’re helping people to get home to their families sooner and more safely, we’re helping freight move more quickly between our cities, and we’re generating jobs across the country.

“This one of many critical infrastructure projects to receive funding from the Morrison Government as part of its record $110 billion, 10-year infrastructure investment pipeline, which is helping to drive Australia’s world-leading economic recovery.”

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.

“A strong, reliable and safe connection over the Mountains is critical to ensure more people can travel to and from regional NSW for work and tourism,”

“That’s why the Australian Government has invested in the East and West sections, which will be the first to kick off with designs to be released to the community in coming weeks – which means motorists will benefit sooner.”

NSW Member of the Legislative Council Shayne Mallard said the imminent release of concept designs and the Review of Environmental Factors (REF) for the Medlow Bath upgrade show how serious the NSW Government is about delivering a safer, smoother highway.

“As a local, 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 this 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.”

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

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