Transport for NSW offers these materials regarding its plans for the Great Western Highway Upgrade Program in Blackheath and surrounds.
- Great Western Highway Upgrade Program, Katoomba to Lithgow.
- Great Western Highway Upgrade Program, Overview and strategic corridor, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), November 2019
The original four options listed below have been reduced to a Long Tunnel option and a Short Tunnel option, with an announcement by Minister Paul Toole on October 12, 2020.
See Centennial Glen Saved! for more details.
The original four options are described below for historical interest.
Transport for NSW originally proposed four options for duplicating the highway through Blackheath. They are summarised here with quoted extracts from the FAQ listed above, and with the Save Centennial Glen response to the option:
- Blackheath Centre - duplicate the existing highway through the centre of Blackheath
- "...could see the likely partial or full property acquisitions of some residences, businesses, open space, and potential relocation of some Blackheath Station buildings."
- NO - This option destroys the Blackheath town centre along the Great Western Highway.
- Centennial Glen - build an outer bypass with bridges crossing over Shipley Road, Centennial Pass, Porters Pass Track, and over the rail line at the north.
- ".... There are likely impacts on the existing environment through the valley but the potential to create a scenic route for locals and visitors."
- NO - This options destroys the Centennial Glen area.
- Station Street - build a bypass running next to the rail line either at ground level or in a cut-and-cover tunnel - start at the southern end with a tunnel underpass of the rail line, and finishing with a bridge over the rail line at the north.
- "There would be some impacts to residential and commercial properties located along the rail line. The tunnel option provides the possibility of reusing the surface above with open space or other community purposes."
- NO - This option destroys residences and businesses along Station Street.
- Tunnel - build long or short tunnels underneath Blackheath
- "...would remove traffic from the centre of Blackheath, require tunnel portals (entry and exit points) with some property and environmental impacts. Both options would require subsurface acquisition. Both options would have ventilation stacks constructed at either portal end."
- Qualified YES - Save Centennial Glen views a long tunnel, bypassing Blackheath, as the least destructive of all the options offered. Our support is subject to many qualifications relating to where the tunnel starts and stops, access points and ventilation, and other questions of amenity and environmental suitability. In particular the tunnel must be lined so as not to interfere with the natural flow of water through the area. See Why the Long Tunnel?
Why is Transport for NSW Doing This?
This question is answered on page 7 of the FAQ listed above:
"Out of the four major freight connections into Sydney from the regions, the Great Western Highway is the key east-west route. However, it is the only of the four routes limited to 19m B-Double and 20m Performance Based Standard (PBS) vehicles. Alternate routes around the Great Dividing Range use either the Hume Highway or the Golden Highway and are up to 100km longer."
Infrastructure Australia Priority List
In February 2020, Infrastructure Australia added the Great Western Highway upgrade, as a Priority Initiative, to its Infrastructre Priority List. The Priority List has become a key reference point for governments at all levels.
For further community consultation until November 2020, see Centennial Glen Saved!
In May 2020, Transport for NSW published this document, summarising responses to community consultation so far, and outlining the future consultation process:
Great Western Highway Upgrade Program – Katoomba to Lithgow Community Consultation Summary Report
Some key items in this document, organised by topic, include:
- page 24. Of the 1759 submissions received:
- 65% wanted options, other than those offered by TfNSW, to be considered. TfNSW is offering only the four options discussed above.
- 64% were concerned about environmental impacts. The response from TfNSW on this, Aboriginal heritage concerns and other conservation issues, is that there will be studies, and these concerns will be taken into consideration.
Current and Future Consultation
- page 4. "We are currently undertaking a co-design process for Blackheath, as the route options through that village are more complex. No preferred routes for the village have been endorsed at this time. Options that run around the eastern side of Blackheath have been ruled out due to impact on the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. Options that run directly through the Blue Mountains National Park have also been ruled out."
- page 8. "...we are establishing the Blackheath Co-Design Committee to discuss and refine route options for upgrading the Great Western Highway through Blackheath. Options will then be made available for broader community consultation."
- page 6: "The government has committed to building a tunnel, even if it is the most expensive option, if that is the community's preference through the Blackheath Co-Design process and following broader consultation."
- page 9. "At this early stage, we are not aware of any engineering constraints which would render a tunnel under Blackheath unfeasible."