WestCONnex gift to Beverly Hills – lower noise walls and traffic congestion

The NSW Department of Planning and Environment received more than 12,000 submissions from members of the the public and community organisations in response to the WestCONnex New M5 tollway proposal. 99.91% of these submissions objected to the project. The People’s M5 EIS team could only find one submission that supported the project.  Ten submissions  raised concerns rather than outright objecting to the New M5.

Hundreds of residents living in the Kingsgrove and Beverly Hills area were among those opposed to the project.

Many of these residents have been living near the old M5 for 15 years. They know from experience that living near a motorway is nothing like the glossy images produced by the WestCONnex graphics team. If the New M5 goes ahead, 0thers would live close to a new unfiltered ventilation stack and tunnel opening proposed at Kingsgrove; or near the Beverly Grove Park that is going to be carved up by WestCONnex, along with most of a critically endangered remnant of Cooks River Ironbark Forest.

There are many more residents living along Stoney Creek, Forest and Bexley Roads who don’t know yet that if the new tollway goes ahead the plan is for their environment to be more congested and more polluted. This is documented in AECOM’s New M5 EIS although most residents have not yet been informed of these impacts. ( We will come back to this in a later post.)

What most people don’t know is that WestCONnex has already been given approval by the NSW Baird government to begin widening the intersection at King Georges Road and the existing M5. This project, which is known as the King Georges Interchange Upgrade, is massively disrupting the lives of residents, some of whom have watched with dismay as vegetation and parks that slowly grew after the M5 sliced up their neighbourhood are torn down by WestCONnex.

The King Georges Interchange project doesn’t make the WestCONnex’s Stage 2 New M5 tunnel inevitable but what it does do is provide an excellent place to start if you want to understand some of the key arguments against the WestCONnex. It  also provides a strong warning against trusting promises by Sydney Motorway Corporation (WestCONnex) or the Department of Planning of future mitigation of the worst impacts of motorways.

NSW Premier Mike Baird recently told the Sydney Morning Herald that some “displacement” and “loss of green space” is an unfortunate consequence of building  ‘infrastructure” to cater for future growth …otherwise the city will come to a halt.”

The problem with Baird’s argument is that there is lots of evidence that the WestCONnex won’t solve traffic congestion. Yes, residents would suffer both during the construction and operation of WestCONnex, but no, traffic congestion will not be solved. In some suburbs it will be worse.

You will notice that Baird also made no mention of the consequences of increased air pollution and noise for those living near congested roads. Continue reading

Clover Moore speaks her mind on ‘disruptive’ WestCONnex

People’s M5 EIS editor Wendy Bacon reports:

‘Stop Westconnex’ flags fly from City of Sydney poles in Newtown

City of Sydney’s “Save Newtown Stop WestCONnex flags” have appeared in King Street, Newtown, just in time for the Easter crowds. As thousands of visitors  from outside the Inner West flow into the famous street, the City of Sydney Council and local campaigners hope they will take the message home.

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This is just the latest sign that City of Sydney, Newtown Business Precinct and Save Newtown Westconnex Action Group (WAG)are continuing to campaign hard against the Baird government’s WestCONnex tollways that will dump thousands more cars into already congested local roads. They’re not convinced by a promise made by Minister for Roads Duncan Gay that however bad the congestion gets, clearways that would  kill off businesses and street life will not be created on King Street.

There is no doubt that the NSW government is troubled by the scale of the campaign in Newtown. WestCONnex has recently indicated that it may also consider plans for a new ‘Gateway’ to steer cars away from King Steet. But this would only happen after the NSW Planning Department has approved the New M5 and would not form part of the current project.

WestCONnex opponents are sceptical of these suggestions. They are at best only promises aimed at deflecting WestCONnex critics. They know from experience that when traffic is pushed onto other local roads,  it usually finds its way back back to its original destination. The main problem is that rather than solve traffic congestion, WestCONnex will dump more cars on many roads in Inner Sydney.

Disruptive WestCONnex

This week was also the Green Cities Conference – celebrating ‘disruptive ideas’.

Disruptive Ideas

Of course there could be nothing more disruptive that a massive motorway carving through our suburbs but that wasn’t a topic that found favour with the conference program organisers. You would think the biggest transport infrastructure project in Australia’s history might have been on the agenda but while many planners privately acknowledge that WestCONnex is a poor idea, most prefer to play safely by keeping quiet. But City of Sydney’s Mayor Clover Moore was not going to let the conference pass without a little disruption of her own. Continue reading

Tolls make WestConnex a project with no winners

 

According to the WestConnex Updated Strategic Business Case, commuters are prepared to pay $21.32 to avoid sitting in traffic for one hour.

But according to the numbers in the Updated Strategic Business Case’s Technical Paper 2, commuters will be paying up to $80 in tolls for every hour they save – almost 4 times as much as the Business Case say they are prepared to pay. Continue reading

Why I object to #WestCONnex : Dr Victor Storm of Haberfield to NSW Planning Department

( Ed: Dr Victor Storm  is a psychiatrist who has spent much of his life living and working in the Inner West.  He now lives in Haberfield, in the heart of a community where many are losing their homes or will be badly affect by the M4 East. People’s M4 EIS published his submission to the M4 East EIS. This project is still being assessed by the Department of Planning.  Victor Storm objects to the whole WestCONnex. His submission to the M5 EIS took the form of a letter to the Secretary of the Department Carolyn McNally.) .

Ms C McNally

Secretary,

Department of Planning and Environment

re: WestConnex New M5 EIS, project number SSI 14_6788

I strongly object to this project and the entire WestConnex of which this is part, and ask that you reject this proposal on the basis of this environmental impact statement (EIS).

I object to the fact that the process and rationale for Westconnex has been constructed after the fact. This is the core problem. Someone had a thought bubble and managed to convince a number of others that building Westconnex was the solution to Sydney’s transport woes.

Victor Storm speaking at Uprooted
Victor Storm speaking at Stop WestCONnex Uprooted Rally in 2015

A new Federal government with a desire to be seen to be in action and state government wishing to be seen as open for business were caressed and conned by large engineering firms desperately seeking work as state sponsored finances shrank in Europe & Asia. A $10 Billion project has grown to $17 Billion & is yet to include costs for the links to the port & airport, so the prediction of $20 Billion price tag does not seem far-fetched. This demonstrates that the politics of the process jumped ahead of the planning logic.

Continue reading