NEWS: Lord Mayor, Clover Moore calls for independent assessment of WestConnex

On Monday May 16, City of Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore issued the following Mayoral Minute which called the whole WestConnex project into question and revealed the Mayor's letter to Prime Minister Turnbull asking for an urgent independent assessment of the project stating that,  

"An independent assessment would reveal what we all know to be true - that WestConnex simply does not make sense and is the result of Tony Abbott’s pro-road ideology. This is most clearly demonstrated by the fact that WestConnex has
never been adequately assessed against public transport and demand management alternatives to meeting Sydney’s future growth and transport needs."

This letter was also sent to the New South Wales government, state and federal opposition and the Greater Sydney Commission. 

ITEM 3.2. WESTCONNEX
FILE NO: S051491
MINUTE BY THE LORD MAYOR

To Council:

On 21 April 2016, the NSW Minister for Planning, Rob Stokes, approved the New M5
section of the WestConnex toll road project. The New M5 includes the massive St Peters
spaghetti style interchange.

IMPACTS ON THE CITY OF SYDNEY

The New M5 and in particular the St Peters Interchange will have a significantly negative
impact on residents and businesses located in the City of Sydney:

1. The new toll on the existing M5 and the increase in road capacity on Euston Road
from four lanes to up to six lanes, and Campbell Road from two lanes to six lanes,
will see tens of thousands of additional cars pouring into already congested areas
such as Ashmore, Erskineville, Alexandria, Redfern, Green Square and the CBD of
the global city.

2. Air quality, even at existing levels, is close to the allowable limits, and will only get
worse with a major interchange, road upgrades and ventilation stacks at the St
Peters Interchange and surrounds putting thousands of young children and the
elderly at risk. If new air quality standards as proposed by the Council of Australian
Governments (COAG) in 2012 are implemented, the New M5 will exceed allowable
air pollution levels.

3. The proposed project will have unacceptable impacts on Sydney Park. As well as
surrounding it on three sides with large, high-volume roads, and the removal of
hundreds of trees, the Government will take land on the southern side of the park for
a construction compound.

4. It will endanger one of the best and most successful main streets in the
country - King Street

AN APPALLING INVESTMENT FOR TAXPAYERS


At $16.8 billion, WestConnex is nearly triple the combined cost of recent motorways built
in Sydney – the M4, M5, Harbour Tunnel, M2 and Eastern Distributor would cost $6.1
billion in total in today’s dollars. Additional stages of WestConnex under development
could see the total cost reach more than $30 billion.

This would make it the world’s most expensive road project yet it is clear that the
project will not deliver its stated objectives as presented by the NSW Government.

In summary:

1. WestConnex won’t increase Western Sydney residents’ access to jobs and
economic development. Only a small proportion of workers from western Sydney
commute to inner Sydney and, of those, 89 per cent rely on public transport, not
cars. Consistent with the NSW Government’s Metropolitan Strategy, Western
Sydney needs more jobs close to where people live, and better public transport
within and to the key centres in that area. Public money spent on WestConnex would
be better spent on public transport in Western Sydney.

2. WestConnex will not provide a connection to Sydney Airport and Port Botany.
The New M5 would divert traffic north to the St Peters Interchange where it would
have to make its way back to the airport and/or port on the existing road network.
Given the existing M5 provides a more direct connection, it is unlikely that
freight and commuters will choose the new route. The proposed Sydney
Gateway connection will not be completed when the New M5 is completed, and
might never be. Even then, the existing M5 will provide a much more direct link to
the port and airport. WestConnex also does not take into account the second
airport at Badgerys Creek, as the Federal Government’s commitment to a second
airport was made after WestConnex was announced. This on its own is sufficient
to warrant a review of the merits of WestConnex.

3. WestConnex will not deliver urban renewal for Parramatta Road. The intention
to deliver renewal and improved liveability along Parramatta Road seems to have
been abandoned with the M4 East extension shifted to a more northerly
configuration. New designs for a portal at Camperdown would see the sections
of Parramatta Road and Broadway, east of Sydney University swamped by
increased traffic.

The public rationale for the project is contained in the Updated Strategic Business Case,
released last year. In February 2016, Council endorsed an SGS Economics and Planning
analysis of the Strategic Business Case. SGS was damning about the Business Case and
the project. SGS said the document did not meet the proper standards of a final Business
Case and is “a confused document filled with contradictions.”

Even using what SGS identified as flawed and optimistic assumptions, the
Government’s own figures estimate that most users will save less than five minutes
and that the road network serving the toll road and some sections of tunnel will
reach capacity as soon as 2031, only eight years after completion – it is an appalling
investment for NSW taxpayers.

SGS reported that any benefit of WestConnex “is likely to be marginal at best and it
is quite possible that the actual BCR (Benefit-Cost Ratio) for WestConnex is less
than one”, that is, the benefits will not exceed the costs.

It also works against the Government’s own Metropolitan Plan, which focuses on the
need to provide public transport between the city and town centres in the west and southwest,
and public transport between those centres. $16.8 billion on more roads despite the
fact that 89% of people travelling to the city from the west do so on overcrowded public
transport.

Read the complete Mayoral Minute here


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