Great Western Highway Upgrade, Lawson

Completed: 2012

The opening of stage two of the Great Western Highway upgrade through Lawson, named after the great explorer William Lawson, marked the culmination of over a decade of planning and design for this complex project.

Early options for the project included a full town bypass, however after extensive consultation with the community, council, land owners and local stakeholders, a high quality solution was found allowing the continuation of retail along the highway frontage, preservation of several heritage buildings and culturally important sites, while minimising impacts on the local residents.

A highly innovative idea was also delivered through realignment of 600m of the Main Western Railway Line, allowing both highway and rail line an optimum alignment along the narrow Blue Mountains ridge.

A true mark of the project success is evident in the careful integration with the township fabric and preservation of key characteristics of Lawson. Several historically and culturally significant properties were adjusted or re-established on their sites and restored, including the Lawson Baptist Church, heritage listed school house 'Tahlia' and the Mechanic's Institute.

The new highway and railway alignment improved access to local services while preserving the three mid-1800s to mid-1900s railway bridge crossings and heritage listed Sydney Rock, a place where travellers can view the coast. Remnants of the brickwork parapets of the second bridge over the railway have been cleverly incorporated into a feature landscape area.

The upgrade through Lawson’s retail centre, was also the catalyst for council’s reconstruction of the village centre. The project maintains the village's presence on the highway, including a new parallel service road and relocation of highway fronting shops.

A new design for Douglass Square at Honour Avenue was prepared in consultation with council complementing the War Memorial and the site's sense of history. Remnants of Thomas Mitchell’s roadwork uncovered during construction were faithfully reconstructed and placed on permanent display within Douglass Square.

Improvements to local road access and enhancement of the pedestrian and cycle network are additional highlights of this project that has been well received by the community.

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