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Artist impression of the development. Artist impression of the development. Featured
21 December 2021 Posted by 


Tunnel a gateway to the plains
WHEN the 11km tunnel between Blackheath and Little Hartley is finally opened sometime in the foreseeable future, Greater Western Sydney will begin to develop beyond the Blue Mountains.
It means business and tourism opportunities in the city’s west will stretch as far as Bathurst and beyond.
And it will open up the “Boundless Plains” mentioned so prophetically in our National Anthem. 
Now, it is not feasible at this stage that tens of thousands of commuters will suddenly start making the road trip to Western Sydney each day from the Golden West as they currently do from the Central Coast and the Illawarra.
However the electric rail service only needs to be extended from Bathurst and Orange to make a quick commute to Western Sydney possible via Fast Train.
The development of the Central West would have tremendous benefits for housing and property affordability because it would solve the problem of fast diminishing land stocks.
The state government has announced a contract has been awarded for the environmental assessment for the planned tunnel through the Blue Mountains.
The tunnel will be built as a component of the $4.5bn Great Western Hwy upgrade between Katoomba and Lithgow which is set to begin late next year.
Engineering consultants AECOM will continue environmental investigations to confirm the feasibility of the tunnel and provide a basis for an EIS which will go out for community consultation next year.
“We’re confident that the assessment will show the feasibility of this ambitious project and that we can build an Australian first right here in the Blue Mountains,” Roads Minister Paul Toole said in a release.
AECOM, which previously worked on the NorthConnex and M6 Stage I, demonstrated “a comprehensive understanding of the unique and sensitive Blue Mountains environment and will be working to develop rigorous measures to avoid and mitigate impacts from the tunnel work”.
Construction of the tunnel is scheduled to begin in 2024 and will be a major boost for traffic besieged Blackheath and surrounds.
Meanwhile, Premier Dominic Perrottet has announced the remaining 49% stake in WestConnex had been sold off, putting full ownership in the hands of the Sydney Transport Partners consortium.
STP put in a bid for $11.1B for the remaining two stakes in the massive road infrastructure project.
The consortium, led by Transurban, purchased a 51% stake for $9.26B in 2018.
Mr Perrottet said the sake continues the state’s asset recycling strategy was part of a long term strategy to bolster NSW’s finances.
The government launched the sale process for the remaining 49% stake in the project last November, has now netted $20.4B from the sale of the entire project.
Proceeds from the sale will be invested in the NSW Generation Fund and used to retire debt.


Michael Walls
0407 783 413