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

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