BAG Meeting with RMS
BAG met with Alistair Lunn of the RMS on Thursday November 28. BAG was told the following:
The committed $2.5 billion will only fund construction of Stage 1, Katoomba to Medlow to Blackheath and Hartley Valley to South Bowenfels.
There is no money for the Blackheath and or Mount Victoria sections.
RMS admitted the total cost of duplicating the highway between Katoomba and Lithgow (including Blackheath and Mount Victoria sections) will be way in excess of the estimated $4.5 billion.
Planning for the Blackheath section may take 3 to 4 years and construction won’t be completed until at least 2029 and only IF RMS can get funding for the Blackheath and Mount Victoria sections and IF there are no cost blow outs and or delays in construction of Stage 1. These are big IFs.
RMS is looking for feedback about each option – DO NOT BE FOOLED, THIS IS NOT A VOTE FOR THE TUNNEL. RMS will assess each option based on cost, geotechnical, environmental, social and feasibility. Deciding the final option will be chosen based on MERIT, not a public Blackheath vote.
The RMS proposed timeline for Blackheath is by June 2020, the current proposed strategic corridor area through the western side of Blackheath will be reduced to three lines on a map.
RMS will then engage with the community in extensive design consultation.
The three lines will be narrowed to one line, followed by further consultation before a Concept Design is prepared and released for further community consultation. During this time RMS will undertake surveys and studies to determine other impacts such as geotechnical and environmental (including heritage).
This process could take up to 4 years.
All tunnel options have property impacts and possible surface and subsurface acquisitions.
The duplication is being designed to accommodate up to 30m B-double trucks with a sign posted speed of 80km in the mountains and 100km in the Hartley valley.
Promises by politicians for a tunnel under Blackheath as part of the project are just that, promises. At the end of the day a decision about which option to choose will be based on cost, geotechnical, environmental, social and feasibility.
BAG is pushing RMS to issue letters of apology and a public statement about the letters sent in error.
RMS has agreed to attend a BAG-organised town meeting as guest speakers, to address the community and publicly answer questions on the record about the proposed duplication of the highway between Katoomba and Lithgow.