A Highway bypass of Lithgow and Mt.Victoria.
The Great Western Highway and the Bells Line of Road provide our only direct road connections between the Central West and the Sydney region. The section of the Bells road between Lithgow and Bell is also known as the Chifley Road. The Darling Causeway runs parallel with the railway line connecting Bell and Mt.Victoria.
There are numerous problems associated with these roads that are major obstacles to an efficient and safe connection to Sydney. Those problems are such that they are causing substantial disadvantage to communities in the central west region. They could be overcome by developing a different route to those currently in use.
Problems in the present Great Western Highway between Marangaroo and Mt.Victoria include:
· A major decent of 300metres form the junction of the GWH and the Mudgee Road to the River Lett at Hartley;
· Restricted speed conditions and intersecting traffic situations through the urban area of Lithgow;
· Restricted speed conditions at South Bowenfels including dangerous curves and grades at River Lett Hill;
· A corresponding 300 metre ascent from the Hartley valley to Mt.Victoria which includes restrictive speed conditions and intersecting traffic situations at Little Hartley;
· Dangerous curves, steep grades and narrow road associated with Mt.Victoria Pass;
· Restrictive speed conditions associated with the town of Mt.Victoria.
Problems with the Bell/Chifley Road include:
· The need for traffic to travel fully through the main urban area of Lithgow;
· Steep grades and sharp curves of the Chifley Road associated with the eastern assent/decent from Lithgow.
Topographic mapping information shows two possible options for a combined single route connecting Marrangaroo, Bell and Mt.Victoria. Construction of an expressway standard road on either of the alignments outlined below, could provide profound improvements in safety and efficiency. Examination of topographic maps show that roads or tracks already exist over much of the proposed route options. The terrain in the area should not offer any substantial obstacles to achieving construction to expressway standards.
Some consideration has been given to this situation which is referred to in the RTA/DOTARS Bells Line of Road Corridor Study, November 2004, as the “western precinct”. The issue was also researched in the previous Maunsell McIntyre “Bells Line of Road Development Study”, June 2000, conducted for the RTA.
The studies outline two proposals for a road route that completely avoids the urban area of Lithgow. The northern route option is about four kilometres or 20% longer than the southern option which would pass through the area occupied by the Defence Department. The shorter option has obvious advantages in providing substantial time savings. Neither option encroaches on National Parks. Both options join at the existing Newnes Plateau gravel road that currently services sand mines in the area and emerge in the vicinity of the Zig-Zag tourist railway station to join the Chifley Road at Clarence. By crossing the Darling Causeway and passing under the railway about 2km north of Mt.Victoria an efficient bypass of that town can be built. This would also allow a convenient reconnection to the existing GWH.
An expressway standard road built on this alignment would be fully compatible with a further extension to the east that would bypass most Blue Mountains towns by crossing the Williams and St.Helena ridges south of the existing GWH to join the existing M4 motorway east of Glenbrook. An expressway built on this alignment where current traffic volume is high, would deliver maximum benefits for both Central West and Blue Mountains road users.