State government investigates building Australia's longest road tunnel

TUNNEL VISION: Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Regional Roads Minister Paul Toole and Transport for NSW western region director Alistair Lunn at Monday's announcement. Photo: SUPPLIED
TUNNEL VISION: Deputy Premier John Barilaro, Regional Roads Minister Paul Toole and Transport for NSW western region director Alistair Lunn at Monday's announcement. Photo: SUPPLIED

A PROPOSAL to build Australia's longest road tunnel beneath the Blue Mountains could be a game changer for Bathurst and the Central West, says Bathurst MP and Regional Roads Minister Paul Toole.

Mr Toole announced on Monday morning that investigations were under way to gauge the feasibility of linking two tunnels that have already been locked in to run beneath Mount Victoria and Blackheath.

Just last week Cowra Shire Council once again called on the State and Federal government to get serious about improving the link between Sydney and the central west.

If the new plan is a goer, it would create an 11-kilometre tunnel from stretching from just east of Little Hartley to near Evans Lookout on the eastern side of Blackheath.

Mr Toole said drilling rigs now in place beside the Great Western Highway are collecting samples up to 200 metres below the surface as investigations continue.

"This could be huge and would make a big difference for people travelling to and from the Central West, and also in terms of business investment into the future," he said.

"Everyone has spoken about this for decades with very little actually happening but this is now a project that's becoming a reality.

"You only have to see the congestion through Mount Victoria on a Sunday or all along the highway on a long weekend to know that it's just not good enough, and even a minor accident can close the highway for extended periods."

Mr Toole said early investigations indicated linking the tunnels could be feasible and a final determination could be made by the end of the year.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the proposed tunnel would transform the state by better connecting the Central West to the coast.