In 2011, Paul Toole was worried about the highway upgrade

When the highway upgrade was being considered by then Keneally government eight years ago, both Blue Mountains candidate, Roza Sage, and Bathurst candidate, Paul Toole, were very concerned about the adverse affects on their communities.

This resident of Station St, Blackheath, has a pretty clear message.

This resident of Station St, Blackheath, has a pretty clear message.

Now Mr Toole, Regional Transport and Roads Minister, is a big champion of the upgrade.

In his press release announcing the release of options last month read, he promised the upgrade would reduce travel times and congestion along the 34-kilometre route between Katoomba and Lithgow.

"As someone who drives the Great Western Highway each week, I know how much of a game-changer this project will be for safety and congestion, especially in communities like Medlow Bath, Blackheath and Mount Victoria. It will deliver a safer, faster route over the mountains and dramatically improve connectivity with the Central West."

But back in 2011 it was a different story.

Ms Sage and Mr Toole, both candidates for their respective seats, told the then shadow roads minister, Andrew Stoner, that an upgrade would have a "significant impact on the environmental, cultural, social and economic life of the communities they traverse".

Mr Stoner put those concerns down on paper in a letter sent to a number of organisations, including the Conservation Society, Blue Mountains Sustainable Transport Alliance and action groups/resident committees from Katoomba, Blackheath, Mt Victoria, Bell, Hartley, Bullaburra and the Mid Mountains.

In the letter, dated February 22, 2011, Mr Stoner described the Keneally Labor Government plans as "sub optimal".

"In particular, the proposed Mt Victoria to Lithgow upgrade and the bypass of River Lett hill may be unnecessary, especially given the potential for safety upgrades to be made to the Bells Line of Road corridor," he wrote.

Mr Stoner promised a review if the Liberal-National coalition was elected in March 2011.

It was, in a landslide, with both Mr Toole and Mrs Sage elected in the new Barry O'Farrell-led government.

Today, the Nationals are strong supporters of the scheme to duplicate the highway between Katoomba and Lithgow to allow longer and larger trucks through.

In the 2011 letter, Mr Stoner wrote: "Rest assured, we have no plans to allow B Doubles longer than 19 metres through the Blue Mountains."

The latest RMS plans for the highway duplication specifically state: "The highway is being designed to carry the safest and most productive heavy vehicles, including B-doubles up to 25 metres and Performance Based Standards Vehicles up to 30 metres."

The Gazette asked Mr Toole whether his community was still concerned about the impacts, as it was in 2011.

He did not respond to that question.

The Gazette also asked when the National Party changed its mind about allowing B-doubles longer than 19 metres to travel across the Mountains.

Mr Toole's office did not address that question.

In a statement, a spokeswoman reiterated press releases that the upgrade will deliver a "safer, faster route over the Blue Mountains".

It promises "better travel times, safer and more reliable journeys and less congestion".

The RMS documents tout that the upgrade could save "at least 10 minutes" for drivers.