A TUNNEL beneath the village of Blackheath no longer appears a pipedream following a major state government announcement. Regional Roads Minister and Bathurst MP Paul Toole confirmed on Monday that the state government is now backing a tunnel as the best option as part of its $2.5 billion upgrade of the Great Western Highway.
Now it's just a question of how long that tunnel should be.
The government is now seeking community feedback on two tunnel options: a shorter tunnel that would run from Sutton Park to near the Mount Boyce heavy vehicles safety station, and a longer option that would run from the Mount Boyce station to the south of Evans Lookout Road.
Either option would take thousands of vehicles out of the centre of Blackheath every day and remove the Blackheath bottleneck for Bathurst residents travelling to and from Sydney.
It would also represent another significant step in properly opening up the major road link between Sydney and the Central West, a link that for too long has been strangled by single lanes, traffic lights and constantly changing speed zones.
The tunnel options remain in the very early stages of design as part of the ongoing highway upgrade project but the proposal should be welcomed by all in Dubbo if it means a quicker trip to the city.
Every upgrade that cuts the travel time between here and Sydney effectively moves us closer to Australia's major city and major ports - and there's more good than bad that comes with that.
Reducing travel time between Dubbo and Sydney boosts opportunities for people seeking to relocate to the region both to live and do business, and offers greater flexibility for those of us who are already here when we need - or want - to go to the big smoke.
Going underground will not be cheap, but residents argued it still represents better value than damaging the priceless Blue Mountains environment.
Now it's just a matter of getting it done.
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