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Regional NSW infrastructure projects ramp up

Article PhotoNew South Wales's ageing road infrastructure is an issue the state government is aware of and is actively upgrading. However, when it comes to safety, it often needs the assistance of the public to assess what is dangerous and needs to be fixed.

In the latest round of infrastructure upgrades, the government is inviting community members to submit their thoughts on the latest stage of the $48 million Bells Line of Road corridor improvement program.

Located west of Sydney, the Bells Line of Road is one of two corridors linking the coast to inland NSW west of the Blue Mountains. Major regional centres such as Bathurst, Orange and Dubbo are serviced by traffic over the Bells Line of Road.

According to Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), however, between the North Richmond Bridge and the Darling Causeway intersection, there have been a number of crashes in recent years. In 2012 alone, there were 72 crashes along this stretch with one fatal crash and 27 injury crashes.

A RMS spokesperson explained what the next stage of the upgrade will entail and how the community can assist with discussions.

"Roads and Maritime Services is working to significantly improve safety and traffic flow on Bells Line of Road, with work progressing well to build a one kilometer eastbound overtaking lane west of Kurrajong Heights and feedback invited to the next stage," the spokesperson said.

"The Bells Line of Road improvement program is the most significant investment on this strategic corridor in a generation and aims to benefit residents and visitors alike travelling between the Sydney metropolitan area and the central west of NSW."

RMS hopes this work will improve traffic flow and reduce delays in the area. Congestion is particularly poor in this area at the end of weekends and at peak-times as people travel back towards Sydney. The upgrade should also reduce the risk of crashes in the area as well.

Kurrajong Heights and Bell region

This infrastructure project comes as part of a larger NSW government program which includes rebuilding key section of road and investigating what can be done to address long term congestion problems.

According to the RMS Spokesperson, the overtaking lane at Kurrajong is not the only one proposed in the area.

"Seven overtaking lanes and a series of other safety improvements are proposed to be built between Kurrajong Heights and Bell during the next four years to improve safety and reduce congestion," the spokesperson said.

"Work under way to build the lane between Patterson Ridge Fire Trail and Glenara Road at Kurrajong Heights is expected to be completed by October this year."

Further safety changes

Further up the Great Western Highway at Orange, motorists should experience safety changes of a slightly different nature. The speed limit on Clergate Road, north of Orange is set to be reduced.

By the end of July, the speed will be lowered from 80 km/h to 60 km/h in an attempt to increase both motorist and pedestrian safety.

Member for Orange, Andrew Gee explained that the process was in-depth and part of a wider speed zone review program

"The review assessed a number of factors along the road including pedestrian activity, road environment, traffic characteristics and crash data," he said.

There will be warning signs for the next couple of weeks as drivers adjust to the change. Mr Gee noted that the speed limit will be more "consistent with the road environment".

"Road safety data will be reviewed after implementation to monitor its effectiveness," he concluded.

So far in 2014, 187 people have lost their lives on NSW roads. This is 9 per cent more than the same time last year.