Would you like to pay 43 years of tolls, or just 6?

Starting on 15 August, the M4 and the M5 are to be tolled for the next 43 years, to pay for WestConnex Stage 3.

On 7 June, the Daily Telegraph reported that Luke Foley supports “all three stages of the WestConnex”  (subscription may be required).

If this is true, it would reverse Labor’s previous position, which was to support the first two stages of WestConnex, but not Stage 3.

Well placed sources have confirmed that Foley did say that the M4 and M5 need to be linked, but he did not say how they should be linked.

Stage 3, also known as the M4-M5 Link is an enormously expensive tunnel under the inner city. It will eventually connect Haberfield and Balmain to Kingsford Smith Airport, via St Peters. If built, it will cost at least $8 billion dollars.

It would link the M4 and the M5, but that is not the only way that the M4 and the M5 can be linked.

alternate_to_m4_m5_link.png

The City of Sydney have released an ‘Alternative to WestConnex‘. Their alternative proposes linking the M4 and the M5. But they don’t propose building an expensive tunnel. Instead, the City of Sydney would upgrading the A3 (King Georges Rd to Centenary Drive).

EcoTransit, a public transport lobby group, believe the City of Sydney plan is superior to the WestConnex M4-M5 plan. But they also believe that there is an even better option – to upgrade the A6 (Silverwater Road to Stacey St).

Why this matters

Tunnels are expensive, about ten times times as expensive as a normal road.

Upgrading either the A3 or the A3 would provide all the benefits of the tunnel, but at a fraction of the cost.

And that means that the government wouldn’t need to charge 43 years of tolls. Just 6 years of tolls could raise enough money to pay for it all.

Upgrading the A3 or the A6, or both, would not only provide a linkage between the M4 and the M5, it would make it easier to get around Western Sydney.

This which would encourage businesses to locate in the West rather than in the East. And that means more jobs in Western Sydney.

So why does that the Liberal Government want to build an expensive tunnel under the inner city, rather than upgrade existing roads in the Western Suburbs? Truth is, we don’t know. But the M4-M5 Link does one thing that an upgrade of the A3 or the A6 doesn’t. The M4-M5 Link makes it easier to get from the North Shore to the Airport.

Whatever the reason, if it gets built, Western Sydney gets to pay for it.

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