Bells Line of Road
|Bells Line of Road|
|Length||89 km (55 mi)|
|West end|| Great Western Highway (A32)
Lithgow, New South Wales
|East end|| Macquarie Street (A9)
Windsor, New South Wales
|Major suburbs||Clarence, Dargan, Bell, Mount Tomah, Berambing, Bilpin, Kurrajong Heights, Kurmond, Richmond|
The Bells Line of Road (route B59) is a major road in New South Wales and runs from North Richmond on the North-Western outskirts of Sydney to Bell in the Blue Mountains, where it becomes Chifley Road.
The route, part of the traditional aboriginal pathway network, was shown to Archibald Bell, Jr. by Darug men Emery and Cogy in 1823. They were accompanied by assistant government surveyor Robert Hoddle and the route they marked was known as Bells Line, to be later cleared to become the second road across the Mountains. It was rarely used before World War II. The road was improved between 1939 and 1949 as it was seen by the government as being an alternative to the Great Western Highway and could be used for war efforts.
Today, the route is still used as an alternate route across the Blue Mountains and is also a popular tourist drive.
Bells Line of Road starts at Richmond Bridge where State Route 40 crosses the Hawkesbury River. It proceeds through the towns of North Richmond and the village of Kurmond, before bypassing Kurrajong. It then proceeds to climb onto the Bell Range of the Blue Mountains, passing through Kurrajong Heights. When on the range it proceeds the fruit growing areas of Bilpin and Berambing, before climbing and descending Mount Tomah, passing by the Mount Tomah Botanic Gardens. After Mount Tomah it proceeds through the Blue Mountains National Park passing Mount Bell and Mount Charles as well as picnic areas such as Pierces Pass and Mount Banks. Eight km before Bell is the turn off to the villages of Mount Wilson and Mount Irvine The route has numerous sections of road that are steep and winding. The prime example of this is Bellbird Hill when the road rises around 450 m from the Hawkesbury Valley to the Bell Range. The road is steep with a grade of 1:8 and has several tight bends. Other steep sections include the east and west ascents of Mount Tomah and Mount Bell as well as "The Glen" on the west side of Kurrajong Heights.
Lowered speed limits
In November 2007, the Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) announced plans to lower the speed limits along much of Bells Line of Road. Within a week, sufficient opposition was expressed that the changes were put on hold. In October 2008, the same changes were again announced, with the RTA claiming that there had been community consultation, but numerous users of the road, including politicians and councillors based west of the Blue Mountains, claimed to have been unaware of any consultation. As a result of the changes, the maximum speed limit east of Bell is now 80 km/h.
For many years road lobby groups have been pushing for what they call a "superhighway" across the Blue Mountains. They claim that the poor roads leading to the Central West of New South Wales are impeding growth. For many years the Great Western Highway was the preferred route, but after studies found that a freeway would be too expensive to build along this route the idea was abandoned.
In 2002, road lobby groups secured $2 million in funding for a feasibility study into building a freeway following the Bells Line of Road. The proposed freeway would have linked to the M2 Hills Motorway in Sydney and dropped into the Central West via Newnes Plateau. The study report, published in November 2004 concluded that, while feasible to build from an engineering perspective, it would not be economically feasible and would have massive impact on adjacent National Parks and local communities.
The next trafficable road north of Bells Line of Road that crosses the Blue Mountains is the Bylong Valley Way, which forms a more direct route between the Central West region and the Hunter Region including the port of Newcastle.
- "Hawkesbury Valley". Greater Blue Mountains Drive. Retrieved 29 May 2013.
- http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/11/13/2088932.htm RTA puts Bells Line speed limit changes on hold - ABC news, 13 Nov 2007
- http://lithgow.yourguide.com.au/news/local/news/general/second-attempt-at-speed-zones/1332629.aspx Second attempt at speed zones - Lithgow Mercury, 14 Oct 2008
- http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/hansart.nsf/V3Key/LA20081022042 Bells Line of Road Speed Limit - Mr Russell Turner, NSW Hansard, 22 Oct 2008
- http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/constructionmaintenance/majorconstructionprojectsregional/western/blor_corridor_study.html Bells Line of Road Corridor Study