City of Sydney reveals ambitious overhaul of WestConnex
Willow Aliento | 6 June 2017
The City of Sydney is calling on the NSW state government to rethink its planning for the contentious WestConnex project, putting forward an alternative proposal it believes will do more to reduce congestion while costing taxpayers and motorists less.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the government’s promises of a direct route to the Port of Botany were false, as was its promise of reduced congestion.
“What they’re delivering is a road that dumps freight at St Peters, seven kilometres away from Port Botany, and makes tens of thousands of cars compete on already congested roads like the Anzac Bridge, the Western Distributor and within the CBD,” Ms Moore said.
“Under this government WestConnex has become a road to gridlock.”
Its costs have also blown out dramatically from $10 billion to an estimated $17 billion. This, however, underestimates the real cost, Ms Moore said.
“We’ve identified $28.5 billion worth of extra costs, bringing the total cost to an estimated $45.3 billion. The costs relate to the hundreds of millions of dollars of publicly funded road upgrades needed for every exit and entrance of WestConnex plus the additional motorways needed to keep moving congestion around.
“It’s unconscionable that a project of this size and impact can be hidden away from public oversight – the Premier needs to immediately establish an independent WestConnex ombudsman and come clean on what is really going on and who is really benefitting.”
She said the project was based on a “dodgy business case” with proposed tolls that would keep rising for the next 40 years.
“So not only will western Sydney motorists be made to sit in even more traffic for hours on end, they’ll be paying for it for the rest of their working life and beyond.”
The council’s proposal is based on the original design, which included a direct route for western Sydney motorists to the airport and the port.
City of Sydney’s proposal also calls for the government to:
- upgrade the A3 connector between the M4 at Homebush and the M5 at Beverly Hills by grade separating intersections
- reduce demand for roads by improving public transport, bring forward Sydney Metro projects and remove station access fees at airport line stations
- bring forward the Western Sydney Airport and connect it from day one to public transport, further reducing demand to the Sydney Airport
- realign the New M5 south to Port Botany and Sydney Airport to eliminate the need for the Sydney Gateway overland connection
It also wants the new M5 to be connected to the Eastern Distributor and the planned St Peters Interchange to be scrapped, and the land it would have occupied sold for housing.
“Our plan shows a way forward that saves billions of dollars, which can be better spent improving public transport in western Sydney – 90 per cent of people travelling to the city from the west are on public transport – and it achieves better freight travel times from the west and southwest to the airport and Port Botany,” Ms Moore said.
The NSW Greens welcomed the council’s ideas.
Greens spokesperson on WestConnex and member for Newtown Jenny Leong said Premier Gladys Berejiklian should “seriously consider” the alternate plan.
“What the city of Sydney plan shows is that there are genuine alternatives to the current WestConnex madness,” Ms Leong said.
“Exploring these alternatives – that prioritise reducing congestion, sustainable transport options and much needed housing in our city – should be what the NSW state government is doing.”
Ms Leong described the plan as a “triple win” that would save Sydney Park, have fewer negative impacts on the inner wast, and provide more housing.
“With the plans for the Sydney Gateway still on the drawing board, and the potential to halt work at St Peters to re-assess the madness of the LA-style spaghetti junction next to our beautiful Sydney Park, now is the time to halt construction and take a step back.
“Anyone who has seen first-hand the huge site at St Peters would know that wasting this valuable land to build a toll road interchange is madness – especially when housing, recreational space, schools and sports fields are in such high demand.”
There is little hope the state government will listen, however, with reports emerging that the government is currently proceeding with selling off the Sydney Motorway Corporation tasked with delivering the project.