Camera Girl asked the other day if the widening was because of increased traffic so I did a bit of research.
The highway serves three functions as:
- The chief road freight route to the west so big trucks
- A major tourist road being not far from Sydney with unique sights to see. So especially busy on weekends.
- The 'main street' of many of the towns and villages along the 100km length of the road over the mountains. Because of the terrain there is basically just one access road across the mountains, and there are parts where we have no alternative but to use the highway, there is no side road around it.
The highway was narrow and undivided (two lanes) and in parts very bendy so difficult for trucks to negotiate. The work has been to make it four lanes divided all the way from the bottom of the mountains to Katoomba and 3 lanes after that.
So there has been aspects of road safety as well as carrying an increasing load of traffic and improving local amenity. The downside for people "passing through" to the west has been the addition of many more sets of traffic lights but useful for those of us who need to get in and out of the road. Also the highway tends to split most of our towns/villages in half so people need to be able to get across. In Lawson we have an underpass near the railway station and shops. This is a shot looking towards the shops with the railway station in the distance on the right.