RMS to front townspeople over highway

Some of the crowd at last week's consultation at Blackheath with RMS (now part of Transport for NSW).
Some of the crowd at last week's consultation at Blackheath with RMS (now part of Transport for NSW).

The RMS will hold a public meeting in Blackheath next week to discuss and answer questions about the proposed highway upgrade.

Transport for NSW western director, Alistair Lunn, will front the meeting to explain how route options will be developed through the town.

The initial plans for the upgrade have caused great concern in Blackheath, with options including building a four-lane highway through the middle of town, demolishing houses and properties along Station St for a new road or swinging a bypass over scenic Centennial Glen, Porters Pass and Fort Rock.

The fourth option is for a tunnel under the town but with no indication of entry or exit points or positioning of ventilation stacks.

Leaflets were dropped into letterboxes along Station St advising residents their properties fell within a "strategic corridor" and may have to be resumed.

Mr Lunn has admitted the leaflets - distributed to more than 100 residents - were sent in error. He has "unreservedly apologised" for the mistake in a letter hand delivered to those residents yesterday.

Mr Lunn said the RMS (now incorporated into Transport for NSW) now wanted to ensure the community received accurate information about the potential upgrade.

"We are still in the very early stages of investigating options through Blackheath and community feedback is critically important in shaping the final plans for the upgrade," he said.

"Since community consultation started last month, feedback has included issues raised about potential environmental impacts, potential impacts to properties along the proposed route, and investigations into upgrades to alternative routes and transport options through the mountains. Feedback is invited until Monday, December 16."

The Blackheath Highway Action Group (BAG) welcomed the meeting.

"BAG thanks RMS for finally listening to BAG and the community by calling a town meeting," spokesman Michael Paag said.

But he added: "Where is Minister Paul Toole? He needs to show up and apologise to the Blackheath and Blue Mountains community for his department's debacle of a communication and consultation process.

"He must take responsibility for the letters stuff up."

The public meeting will be held in the community hall on the highway and Gardiner Crescent on Tuesday, December 10 from 6pm, with doors to open at 5pm.

Blue Mountains mayor, Mark Greenhill, said the upgraded highway would have impacts across the whole region and there should be meetings down the length of the Mountains.

"There should be further town meetings ... because whichever of these hideous options they employ, and force upon Blackheath, will cause large numbers of trucks, up to 30 metres long, to impact every every town and village all the way to Lapstone.

"While I welcome consultation in the Upper Mountains, it seems the rest is being ignored."

Mr Lunn said at the meeting he will provide the community with all of the available information about the current stage of the planning process and what the next steps will be for public consultation to develop route options through Blackheath.

"We will ensure all feedback submitted by community members or anyone interested in the project is carefully considered and the community's voice is actively incorporated in to the project."

A community information session will also be held at Blackheath Area Neighbourhood Centre today (December 4), from 5pm to 7pm. This is a drop-in session where residents can speak with project team members.

For more information and to have your say on the Great Western Highway upgrade from Katoomba to Lithgow please visit rms.work/greatwesternhighway.