Bells Line Expressway campaign shifts up a gear

By Dominic Geiger

The Mayor of the Lachlan Shire, Des Manwaring, has recently added his support to the campaign to construct an expressway on the Bells Line of Road between Lithgow and Sydney.

The road, which was listed as NSW’s most dangerous road earlier this year, is one of the most popular routes for people travelling from the Lachlan Shire to Sydney.

Des said the construction must start by 2015 if Government is to adequately manage future economic and population growth in Sydney and in the Central Western region.

“There is renewed urgency to start construction of the Bells Line Expressway by 2015 to accommodate future population, agriculture and transport trends,” Des said.

“The Bells Group and the Western Research Institute have compiled new and updated data that clearly shows why the Expressway must commence by 2015 and the benefits it will bring to local communities such as Condobolin and the whole of Lachlan Shire.”

Despite this, the project has drawn criticism from environmental groups in the region.

Keith Muir, Director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, said the enormous amount of environmental feasibility studies, property acquisition, and construction work required for the proposed highway meant it would not be economically productive.

“It will [also] create a massive swath of destruction through the World Heritage Blue Mountains; it’s a ridiculous idea,” he said.

Bells Line Expressway chairperson, Ian Armstrong, dismissed these claims, saying that as costing had not yet been done on the studies, it was impossible to predict what they would eventually amount to.

“Anyone trying to talk about project costing can not have a base of knowledge to go off,” he said.

“Firstly, If Sydney’s population growth us is to expand as projected, Sydney will have to spill west over the mountains.

“Sydney can not go north, south or east; it must go west.

“Secondly, [Studies] have listed the Bells Line of Road as the route that will achieve this with the least amount of environmental impact.”

“Bells Line of Road is the most dangerous road in NSW by twelve percent, it is essential we have a safe route over the mountains.”


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