The Bells Line of Road, which provides the alternative route over the Blue Mountains to the Central West from Sydney, will be closed indefinitely due to landslides caused by the recent heavy rains. This is a timely reminder of the many years of inaction on building the long overdue Bells Line Expressway.
Residents are no longer able to access their homes. North Richmond, Gross Vale and other areas between the Hawkesbury River and the collapsed section of Bells Line of Road are now, in effect, isolated. All this within one hundred kilometres of Sydney, in a region with a rapidly growing population.
In the last two days, with the sunken Windsor Bridge and the collapsed Bells Line of Road, we have seen demonstrated clearly the misallocation of resources by NSW Roads & Maritime Services. So focused on building inner city tunnels, RMS has forgotten about essential corridors in regional NSW.
One of the last roles held by the the recently departed former Leader of the National Party in NSW, Ian Armstrong, was as Chairman of the Bells Line Expressway Action Group. As Mr. Armstrong said in 2010 – “the road was built for a previous age”.
Other National Party members have supported the proposal in the past including the former Minister for Roads, Duncan Gay, and Andrew Gee, Federal Member of Parliament for Calare.
Sadly, however, in recent times, Mr. Armstrong’s former colleagues have failed to realise his vision.
The relatively recent RMS Bells Line of Road Corridor Improvement Program (sic) is really just tinkering on the edges. It is not a long term, or even medium term, solution.
In the case of Bells Line of Road, questions should be raised also as to the use of the road in recent years by large trucks dumping waste rubble from developments in Sydney into now disused mines which have added to the wear and tear on the road. Australian Rural & Regional News understands from locals that the road is being repaired constantly due to this additional traffic. Such heavy truck traffic could be a significant contributor to undermining the road which, when combined with heavy rains, leads to the current disaster. Not good enough.