NoW Public Transport WestConnex New M5 Submission

The NoW Public Transport group submitted a strong  submission objectingto the New M5 Westconnex today. You can also find the draft of the executive summary City of Sydney submission calls on the NSW government to reject the profoundly inadequate EIS. on NoW Public Transport facebook page.

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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

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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

Vanessa & Gary from Alexandria: We want infrastructure that moves people not cars

( Ed: Vanessa Knight and Gary Speechley live in Alexandria, which is close to the proposed St Peters Interchange and Sydney Park. Their suburb is in the thick of the push for development that will bring more residents into inner Sydney. Some developments are well planned but some are not, so there is plenty of work for their local Alexandria Residents’ Action Group to do.  Last year the group put up a great fight to save the heritage Alexandria Hotel. After a huge community campaign, they saved the building but not the hotel itself. Now they are faced with the possibility of 71,000 cars pouring out of  WestCONnex into their already congested suburb. Vanessa and Gary have been at the forefront of those struggles. Below, we have published their strong submission objecting to the New M5 EIS. We asked Gary how why they became involved in the fight to stop WestCONnex.  

Gary :

Vanessa and I got involved in ARAG because we love where we live and want to contribute to our community. We endorse ARAG’s goal of not dictating opinion, but putting information before our residents so that they can formulate their own views on issues and make up their own minds.
We like to be doing something positive and pro-active for the area – the Alexandria Sunday FunDay will be held in Alexandria Park on 20th March from 11am to 3pm.
But we spend most of our time fighting over-development and hare-brained schemes from governments: the sale of ATP; WestCONnex; council amalgamations; pro-developer changes to planning laws (which we helped, through BPN and many other groups, to overthrow); the Central-to-Eveleigh redevelopment; the “privatisation” of the Bankstown railway line; the sale of the Alexandria Hotel; dodgy building certifiers; the Ashmore Estate development; lifts for Redfern and Erskineville stations; adequate bus routes; . . . Sadly, the list is a long one!
We just want government to deliver evidence-based, open and transparent decision-making, and to leave us alone to live our lives normally!!!
WestCONnex is a joke of a project that has no valid business case – despite the spin from government and the redacted text from the “revised” business case. We need alternative proposals to be costed and compared to the purported “benefits” of WestCONnex. $16.8 billion, blowing out more and more each day – WITHOUT considering the unfunded third stage to link the M4, M4 and the Airport – can buy a hell of a lot of public transport, public housing, schools, childcare, hospitals, …
Vanessa and Gary Speechley
Vanessa and Gary Speechley

Here is Vanessa and Gary’s submission to the M5 EIS consultation process which closes at midnight tomorrow January 29th. It provides lots of ideas for other submissions.

Submission

How appropriate that we make this submission on Australia Day.

We 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). Continue reading

AECOM cut and paste ‘Social and Economic impact study’ fails basic task

Ed: The lives of many thousands of people would be negatively affected by the New M5 project. Many have already been disrupted and experienced the severe stress of the threat of losing homes and community. Some renters in St Peters have already been evicted from their homes , forced to leave the friends and the community they loved,  long before the EIS was even lodged. Homeowners have been notified that they have less than three months to negotiate a settlement with RMS before their property is seized. Others are living in fear of the intense noise, dust and large-scale construction that will surround them for years or are worrying about what it would be like to be live beside a massive tollway. As Kathy Calman told a packed meeting in Erskineville last night, she and her neighbours have watched in distress as the vegetation they grew to protect themselves against the noise and visual impact of the old M5 being ripped down. Gone too are the old noise walls exposing her community once again to months of  road construction near the entrance of the New M5 project. 

The Planning Secretary’s EIS required Westconnex to include in its EIS  

  • a description of the existing socio-economic environment;
  • impacts on directly affected properties and land uses, including impacts related to access, land use, settlement and subsidence associated with tunnel excavation, property acquisition (including relocations and expenses for those properties acquired) and amenity related changes;
  •  social and economic impacts to businesses and the community within the vicinity of the proposal, with associated property acquisition, traffic, access, property, public domain and open space, and amenity and health related changes (including the broader regional impacts associated with the closure of the Alexandria landfill site should this be part of the proposal);

For the M4 East, AECOM conducted an economic impact study ( criticised as inadequate by local Councils and residents) but hired a consultant to do the social impact study. This study was inadequate but did at least acknowledge the significant  stress and psychological impacts on residents of  loss of community, the psychological impacts of  being forced to move away from your social networks and the stress of living with years of construction and loss of social and visual amenity.  However for the New M5 AECOM did not even bother with that and simply rolled the social and economic impact into one  It claims to have carried out out a cumulative assessment of direct, indirect, and cumulative social and economic impacts of the project on communities, residents, businesses, users of education, health, open space and other community facilities and road users and to have identified means of mitigation.

Transport researcher Anthony McCosker provided these comments on the AECOM study

Given even a fleeting inspection of the social and economic impacts listed in the EIS report (under “Appendix M: Technical working paper: Social and economic”), it is clear that the significant economic and social impacts that will arise from the New M5 project are only superficially covered.

The report exaggerates the potential positive aspects of the project, while the negative aspects are either downplayed, insufficiently detailed or omitted altogether. Where negative economic or social impacts are identified in the report, they are inadequately addressed in terms of management or mitigation actions to be taken. Whereas the previous M4 – East EIS report included separate (yet still insufficiently detailed and inaccurate) Social Impact Assessments and Economic Impact Assessments, this report claims to deal with all social and economic impacts of the project in a single, 76 page report. The following is a brief critique of some of the major social and economic assessment flaws of the New M5 EIS. Continue reading

WestConnex, if it goes ahead, will be devastating for Sydney Park.

Originally posted on arag.org.au

WestConnex, if it goes ahead, will be devastating for Sydney Park.

To see how to object, click here.

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It will take a large chunk out of the south eastern side, for a ‘construction compound’ that will reach almost to the large lake.

It will take off the southern corner, to create a massive intersection between Euston Rd, Campbell Rd and the tunnel ramps. (See the black line on the figure above and to the right.)

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WestConnex will chop 12 meters from the south side of the park – the width of two or three houses. This will wipe out most of the big old trees on that side of the park.

Euston Rd will be carrying 70,000 vehicles. Campbell Rd will be carrying 60,000 vehicles.

There will be two smoke stacks (which are called Ventilation Facilities in the plans, but don’t be fooled. They’re concentrated, unfiltered car exhaust). One will be right on the edge of the park – the other will be about 100 meters away.

And on the south side of Campbell there will be a four story spaghetti flyover.

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The flyover will be visible from half the park, and the noise and pollution from it and the smoke stacks and the extra traffic on Campbell and Euston will make Sydney Park a much less healthy place to be.

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Hard-copy Objections close at 5pm this Friday, the 29th. Online objections may be open for a few hours longer, but why wait?

To see how to object, click here.