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

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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

Saving Newtown from Westconnex

One of Sydney’s best known and loved precincts is King Street. It’s a busy street and is already a clearway in the morning and evening peaks. The traffic does not move fast during day but that makes it tolerable for pedestrians. The fear is that all the thousands of extra trucks and cars that would flow into Inner West roads from the New M5 massive St Peters Interchange will wreck it as a place where people can work, shop and enjoy themselves.  At any time, the far too powerful Roads and Maritime Services Department could declare it a 24 hour clear way.

The Minister for Roads Duncan Gay doesn’t much like King street or the people who campaign to save it. But he has recently come to understand the strength of opposition in the community. He says the community should trust him when he says it will not become a clearway.  Somehow he expects us not to realise that in a few years, he will have retired from NSW political life. In any case, the EIS for the New M5 provides convincing evidence that guarantees given at the time of construction come to mean nothing. If the New M5 goes ahead residents down at Kingsgrove are losing conditions for Parks and preservation of bushland that were imposed when the old M5 was built.

“Small independent retailers are the shops that bring colour and originality to an area and make it a desirable place to be. We suffer most from clearways already and rely on our weekend trade to survive. More clearways would spell the end for us, and a slow creep to the destruction of the entire precinct.” Celia Morris, Owner, Dragstar and Shorties, King St Newtown

The New M5 EIS does briefly acknowledge the value of the street life of King Street. Despite this, the EIS contains no information about what the traffic would be like North of Alice Street which is in South Newtown, nearer the project.  After that point, all modelling ceases. There are a few allusions in the EIS to future plans to steer traffic away from King Street and block the turns from other roads but residents know that all these changes would accomplish is forcing thousands of cars and trucks back into the streets of Alexandria, Enmore and Erskineville which is not acceptable. Anyway, quite a bit of it would inevitably end up in King Street. Continue reading

Janet’s Westconnex Journey – “we’re fighting to save the community we love”

Sydney Park Photo
Janet, Michael and their son, Fred in Sydney Park – 14,000 square metres of which will be taken by WestCONnex. Photo by Martin Brady

( Ed: Janet Dandy-Ward is a founder and key member of the WestCONnex Action Group WAG). She lives in Roberts Street St Peters, a suburb that will be devastated by WestCONnex . She is a friendly and familiar figure in the streets of St Peters, Newtown and in Sydney Park, squeezing the organisation of weekend campaigning stalls  into her busy life.  In this edited version of her submission to the New M5 EIS she describes why she is fighting WestCONnex and her observations of the planning process and impacts the project will have on her community and the rest of Sydney. You can help the WAG campaign by using their site to send your own submission to NSW Planning or go direct to NSW Planning site.  These will be open until midnight Jan. 29.)

My husband and I emigrated to Australia in 2011 (leaving all our family back in the UK) and we moved into this house in Roberts Street deciding that it could be a base whilst we think about what area we might want to move to. We fell in love with the street, our neighbours, our community, the community pre-school and our surrounding green spaces such as Sydney Park, Tilman and Simpson Park – all will be affected by WestCONnex. Incidentally, the neighbour I mention above is like a surrogate grandparent to our son. It is likely that she and her 80 year old husband will move from the street if this project goes ahead.

We have decided that St Peters is where we want to live and have already invested so much in the community – this is something that is worth fighting for; for my family, for our neighbours who are potentially losing their homes due to forced acquisitions, for those older and vulnerable residents who are now feeling uncertain about their future in this and other suburbs. Sydney deserves better.

As a social worker, I have a deep sense of social justice. I believe that this project will not meet its key objectives including reducing traffic congestion. This is a fundamental flaw. The social and environmental impacts briefly described in the EIS are unacceptable and far outweigh any benefits of the project. There are so many aspects of the traffic modelling that as a mum and a full time trainer in a large children’s charity, I have not had time to address in my submission. I have read the research about traffic inducement and I firmly believe that if you build more roads then more traffic will come, I saw this back in the UK with the development of the M25 London Orbital Motorway. Continue reading

WestConnex: What will you get? What will you pay?

The WestConnex Updated Strategic Business Case shows that drivers will be paying up to $8.27 (each way) to save as little as 5 minutes. Truckies will pay three times that. And tax-payers will pay too.

The business case shows that the cost of using WestConnex will be (2016 numbers):

  • flag-fall: $1.17
  • per kilometre: $0.44
  • capped at $8.27
  • payable in: both directions
  • goes up by: 4% a year

toll_graph.v2

Someone using WestConnex for a 16km commute would be paying $82,70 a week, and more, if they have to use other toll roads as well.

Exactly how much you pay, and how much you save, depends on where you are travelling from and to.

If the predicted time savings are right, and there’s no guarantee that they are, but if they are, then these are some samples of what you’ll pay, and what you’ll save, and how many dollars it will cost you to not sit in traffic for one hour:

Distance Cost Without WestConnex With WestConnex Time saved $cost /hr saved
Sydney University to Wattle St, Ashfield 7 km $4.22 25 min 15 min 10 min $25.33
Liverpool to Leichardt 30 km $8.27 55 min 49 min 6 min $82.68
Liverpool to Sydney University 30 km $8.27 61 min 49 min 12 min $41.34
Summer Hill to Airport 9 km $5.10 41 min 26 min 15 min $20.38
Strathfield to Airport 15 km $7.72 41 min 25 min 16 min $28.94
Parramatta to CBD 35 km $8.27 46 min 38 min 8 min $62.01
Penrith to Airport 60 km $8.27 74 min 58 min 16 min $31.01
Penrith to CBD 57 km $8.27 89 min 67 min 22 min $22.55

What you will get. What you will pay.

The tolls will cover the cost of running WestConnex, but not the cost of building it.

For several recent toll roads, tolls have only covered 1/3 of the cost of construction. The New M5 will carry less traffic than the Cross City Tunnel, but it will cost far more to build. WestConnex will cost at least $18B to build. The cost has been blowing out at $2B a year, every year, since it was announced. If the WestConnex can somehow be sold for $6B, then the cost to the taxpayer will still be $12B, or about $3,000 per person in Sydney, and it will mean we have privatised the M4 and the M5.

Those that can’t afford the toll, or just choose not to pay it, will be forced on Parramatta Rd, Stoney Creek Rd and other roads that are already congested. These roads are going to get worse when WestConnex opens.

This is how WestConnex can promise time savings – not by making the M4 and M5 better than they are now, but because the tolls will force people off the M4 and M5, and onto other roads.

WestConnex is a project with no winners. If you use it, you will pay a lot of money to save not a lot of time. If you don’t use it, your trip will take longer than if WestConnex was not built. And whether or not you use, you will pay for the building of it.

WestConnex is spending $18B to make Sydney’s traffic worse.toll_bhills_to_arncliff.jpg