RTA now the Roads & Maritime Services
Their website can be found here : http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/roadprojects/projects/western_region/mt_victoria_lithgow/index.html
Information on the proposed Safety Upgrade of the GWH at Mt Victoria and through the Hartley Valley can be viewed at this site: http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/roadprojects/projects/western_region/mt_victoria_lithgow/project_documents/safety_upgrade.html
with links to very detailed aerial maps and plans for the work proposed all available on this page.
The very detailed Feasibility Report that shows how these plans were formulated can be viewed here
See the latest information on their plans for the GWH as it passes from Mt Victoria to Lithgow here: http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/roadprojects/projects/western_region/mt_victoria_lithgow/documents/great_western_highway_revisedpackage_july2012.pdf
The really important stuff – how it impacts on the valley – can be found here: http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/roadprojects/projects/western_region/mt_victoria_lithgow/documents/mount_victoria_lithgow_community_update_july12.pdf
The full Evans & Peck independent review can be accessed here: http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/roadprojects/projects/western_region/mt_victoria_lithgow/documents/gwh_upgrades_west_katoomba_independent_review.pdf
Full details of the concept plan can be found here. Part 1 has a lot of detailed background information, including the history and geography of the Hartley Valley area (which seems to have been conveniently overlooked when creating this design). Part 2 has the nitty gritty of the Fantasy Highway they have in mind. They are large files but worth the study.
The following is from the RTA/RMS website:
Following an independent review, the NSW and Australian governments have agreed on a revised program of work for the Great Western Highway upgrade between Mount Victoria and Lithgow. This program of work will include:
- Finalising the concept design and road boundaries for upgrading the highway between Mount Victoria and Lithgow.
- A three lane upgrade at Forty Bends.
- An enhanced safety works program.
- Using remaining funds from the joint $250 million Australian and NSW government commitment to fund upgrades between Mount Victoria and Katoomba.
More detail about the NSW and Australian governments’ response to the independent review can be found on the project overview page.
Feedback on the concept design will be received until Friday 26 October 2012. Click here to download the feedback form. Alternatively you can contact the project team as follows:
- Mail to: Mount Victoria to Lithgow Alliance, PO Box 164, St Leonards NSW 1590
- Phone: 1800 035 733 (toll free)
- Email: MV2Linformation@MV2L.com.au
COMMUNITY MEETINGS – AUGUST 2012
RMS representatives will discuss the upgrade priorities and concept design (particularly Forty Bends) at the following community meetings:
Hartley School building
Mid Hartley Road, Hartley
Wednesday 1 August 2012 from Noon – 2pm
Mount Victoria Public School
Great Western Highway, Mount Victoria
Wednesday 1 August 2012 from 6pm – 8pm
The project team will be presenting the concept design followed by time for discussion at the following community meetings. This will provide an opportunity for the community to look at the concept design in more detail:
Hartley School building
Mid Hartley Road, Hartley
(focus on Little Hartley and Hartley)
Thursday 9 August 2012 from Noon – 2pm.
Mount Victoria Public School
Great Western Highway, Mount Victoria
(focus on Mount Victoria)
Thursday 9 August 2012 from 6pm – 8pm.
The Union Theatre
63-65 Bridge Street, Lithgow
(Focus on Forty Bends and South Bowenfels)
Saturday 11 August 2012
10am – Noon meeting
1pm – 3pm staffed display
The project team will remain at the venue after 1pm to discuss any matters the community and stakeholder may have about the concept design.
To view the materials (maps and concept report) related to this concept design you can visit the following venues:
Blue Mountains City Council
2-6 Civic Place, Katoomba
Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5pm.
Town Centre Arcade
Katoomba Street, Katoomba
Monday to Friday from 10am to 5.30pm and
Saturday from 9am to 4pm.
Lithgow City Council
180 Mort Street, Lithgow
Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 4.30pm.
157 Main Street, Lithgow
Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm and
Saturday from 9am to noon.
Lithgow Motor Registry
Shop 51, Valley Plaza
Corner of Lithgow and Bent Streets, Lithgow
Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.
COMMENT ON THE CONCEPT DESIGN AND PROPOSED ROAD CORRIDOR
Feedback on the concept design and proposed road corridor will be received until Friday 26 October 2012.
Click here to download the feedback form.
Click here to download a copy of the community update.
Alternatively you can send your written comments to the Mount Victoria to Lithgow Alliance at the following mail or email addresses:
Mail to: Mount Victoria to Lithgow Alliance, PO Box 164, St Leonards NSW 1590
For further information you can call 1800 035 733 (toll free).
On the proposed Road Safety Upgrade of the GWH between Mt Victoria and South Bowenfels
These proposed safety upgrades are are just what the Hartley Community has been asking for since 2008! My major concern about them is that they don’t have the priority they need. The work within the Valley and in Mt Victoria needs to take precedence over anything else done at Forty Bends which has already been recently improved.
The Safety Upgrade, in all its detail, planned for this area is just what is needed on this stretch of road, though perhaps it would be better for the safety of those accessing any of the businesses that lie along the highway (such as Talisman Galley, Adam’s Shed and Hartley Green Power), that the proposed 2 metre sealed shoulder be extended to 3 metres, where possible, as suggested in the RMS Hartley Valley Feasibility Report for outside Adams Shed. (See http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/roadprojects/projects/western_region/mt_victoria_lithgow/documents/hartley_feasibility_report/feasibility_report_hartley_valley_safety_upgrade_october_2012_main_report_opt_cover.pdf page 17. section 5.5.3)
The School Bus also stops frequently along the highway, and requests have already been made to Lithgow Council to provide a safe area for the buses to stop to the north of Baaner’s Lane, as currently it is often forced to stop in the middle of Baaner’s Lane which is anything but ideal. An extended shoulder in this vicinity would make the world of difference to children, parents and bus drivers as well as other road users.
There is no allowance for cyclists in this plan. We do have cyclists – brave, foolhardy souls, who insist on cycling along the highway and up Victoria Pass, despite the narrow road and extreme danger. Can they also be catered for?
But most importantly, the work through the Valley (between the base of Mt Victoria and the bottom of River Lett Hill) and within the village of Mt Victoria is far more urgently needed by those who live in and traverse through this valley and Mt Victoria than the work proposed on Forty Bends, which, seems to be little more than window dressing when compared with the dangers faced by those in the Valley accessing and leaving the highway.
We are asking the RMS to “Please give the work within the Hartley Valley the priority it deserves!!! ”
There are even more animal deaths along the valley floor than on the Forty Bends, so the animal passages there can wait a bit longer.
It’s more than two months since the Highway concept plan between Soldiers Pinch and South Bowenfels was released but I still feel shocked and unable to fully express my anger and disappointment at the realisation that the people who formulated this design don’t seem to be the same as those who have been in consultation about this road business with residents of this valley for at least four years now. Whoever devised this plan doesn’t seem to have taken in any thing we have said, many times and in many different ways, about all the reasons why anything bigger than an access and tourist road through the valley would be not only destructive to the historic, social and economic value of this valley (particularly its tourist potential), but wasteful of taxpayers’ money, while not providing a fast and safe corridor for through traffic, particularly large trucks that need to link the coastal plain with the central west of NSW and beyond. Nor have they taken the advice of the most recent of many and costly consultants reports. The Evans & Peck Report stated that money should be spent on improving Bells Line of Road rather than the 20 km between Mt Victoria and South Bowenfels other than for safety upgrades.
The viaducts and tunnels are reminiscent of Walt Disney’s Fantasyland; the cost is prohibitive now, and expected to be even more so in the future. If this plan was implemented there would no longer be the possibility of Little Hartley becoming a business and social hub within the valley, as was promised in October 2010. The valley will be covered in more tar and concrete than pasture with historic sites isolated or lost behind great walls of concrete should this plan be adopted. And the thought of two large truck stops (designed to accommodate 10 large B-Double trucks each) between the historic Hartley Village and the historic Hartley Cemetery , with one almost outside the Historic Hartley School mocks our very claim at both being a community and steeped in the history of the land.
Other parts of the plan like running traffic (including trucks) through the Historic Village, and completely isolating the residents of Baaners Lane and making them fend for themselves accessing the superhighway’s 100kph traffic flow without even a running start indicates that the RMS designers have neither sensitivity nor common sense. They’ll be creating more problems than they claim to be resolving.
The reasons cited for not following the community’s recommendation that the truck road follow the ridges around the Darling Causeway and across the Newnes Plateau to rejoin the Great Western Highway near the Mudgee Road turnoff past Marrangaroo and not come down the escarpment into the valley and back up the other side to end up in Lithgow’s suburban streets are hard to understand or accept as being sincere.
The Cardno Report in 2008 said that the Newnes Plateau option was quite possible from an engineering point of view, but was costly – more costly than the original budget for the Hartley Road, as did the SKM study of 2004. That was before the introduction of tunnels and viaducts into the Hartley scheme. With all the added expense anticipated by this new plan, the Newnes option is by far the more cost effective, a matter that carries a lot of weight in this world of economic rationalism.
The second objection to the Newnes Plateau option was that it would take an extra six minutes to travel from Mt Victoria to the Mudgee turnoff and that the truck companies would not accept this extra time constraint.
With three sets of traffic lights about to be installed on the GWH at South Bowenfels to accommodate the increasing suburban traffic in this region, that six minute differentiation is no longer an acceptable excuse. The Hartley/Lithgow route will be longer by at least that with accompanying breaking and acceleration at each traffic light creating more wear and tear (and cost) to truck operators.
The third is the Defence land excuse, which I am sure can be overcome should the will be there. This is, after all, in the National interest.
Better still, rather than have all this heavy transport travelling through the Blue Mountains, either by the GWH or Bells Line of Road, crossing World Heritage Areas and impinging on many thriving communities , there is another way across the Great Divide that is so innocuous that one hardly notices one is crossing the dividing range at all. It is the Golden Highway that connects the Hunter Valley from between Branxton & Singleton to Dubbo via Merriwa and Dunedoo.
At present it is only two lanes wide, with very few overtaking lanes. The population in that region is not large, so fewer people would be inconvenienced by wider roads or more traffic. The mining industry has already destroyed much of the beauty and agricultural value of the land, and Dubbo is a large centre that would really welcome a faster and more accessible road to the coast. It would also directly benefit Mudgee and be very useful to the traffic heading further west and north (Broken Hill, Darwin). The costs would be minimal compared with the challenges of the Victoria Pass viaducts and tunnels and the engineering relatively simple.
The best thing the RTA/RMS has done between Mt Victoria and South Bowenfels is to reduce the speed limit to 80 kph! For that I am particularly grateful – and for the bright yellow police car that diligently reinforces this speed limit. Having to access the Highway via Mid Hartley Road is a challenge to life and limb that is much less of a risk now that the traffic is moving more slowly. I’m still waiting for the safe dedicated right hand turn lane from the Highway into Mid Hartley Road that was promised to us over twelve months ago!
Safety upgrades within the valley are needed far more than yet more work on the Forty Bends section of the road. There has been recent improvement to this section that was previously so dangerous, but since those improvements there have been no fatalities on that stretch. How many more human sacrifices are deemed necessary before the stretch of highway between Mid Hartley Road and Cox’s River Road and Ambermere Place are given adequate shoulders and dedicated turning lanes?
I know that it is the politicians who make these crazy, impractical decisions about where a road will go and how much is to be spent on its construction and it is up to us to lobby them to make the changes of plan that we are seeking.
I also know that improving the rail system to take more of the freight load is vital to reducing the amount of truck traffic on the road. Better passenger services would also help, particularly west of Katoomba! Will common sense and aiming for the common good of the people and the land override the vested interests of the trucking industry and others concerned only with their own profit margins and the power they hold?