Former Roads Minister Duncan Gay has defended the state government, following criticism that it failed to act on a 2007 election promise to build a Bells Line Expressway that would link Sydney through the Hawkesbury region with the Central West.
The push for an expressway linking the two regions continues, with some local governments in the Central West trying to put pressure on the state government to get started on the huge infrastructure project that they believe will benefit the rural economy, tourism and make the drive safer for commuters.
Leading the push is Orange MP Phil Donato from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, who believes that “getting through the mountains has to be a priority. If you get that link between Harley and Windsor or Richmond, that’s the most difficult section”.
Mr Donato has also been critical of the NSW Nationals, in particular Former Roads Minister Duncan Gay who retired last year after losing his portfolio in a cabinet reshuffle, digging up a newsletter from 2007 where Mr Gay had promised residents of the Central West that his party would build an expressway.
Mr Gay defended himself in The Land newspaper and said Mr Donato was resorting to “historical revision” the Orange MP was simply trying to score “petty points for Labor whose spending record over the Great Dividing Range is worse than useless.”
The promise was made before the 2007 election, which the Liberal-National Coalition lost.
The state government has made significant upgrades to Bells Line of Road over recent years which include introducing more overtaking lanes as well as focusing on significant areas that have been known to cause accidents.
Current Roads Minister Belinda Pavey has also openly agreed that the topic of an expressway does need to be discussed but has not made any promises to start building one.
In a statement she said that whilst she is passionate about addressing Central West issues and very much aware of the Bells Line debate, “drawing a line a map is easy but the engineering solution to crossing the Great Dividing Range is very complicated.”
Member for Hawkesbury, Dominic Perrottet, has reiterated her statements and confirmed that improving the Bells Line of Road through upgrades is of high priority to the state government and that they will “continue to deliver the infrastructure that Hawkesbury needs”.
The story Former Minister Duncan Gay wades into Bells Line Expressway debate first appeared on Hawkesbury Gazette.