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.

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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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The Government’s sneaky plan to privatise the M4.

Right now, the M4 is owned by the people of NSW, and is free to use.

Some time in the next few months, drivers will start paying $4.42 to drive from Church Street to Homebush Bay Drive.

That money isn’t going to the NSW government. It’s going to a company called SMC  – Sydney Motorway Corporation.

The government has given the M4 to SMC, for the next 40 years.

SMC will charge drivers up to $8.60 – each way. And this toll will increase by 4% a year. This is twice as fast as wages are rising.

You’ll never see a for-sale sign on the M4.

SMC is government owned, so transferring control of the M4 to SMC doesn’t count as selling the M4.

All you’ll see SMC is being sold. But SMC has control of the M4.

So when SMC goes, the M4 goes with it.

If you don’t think this is a good idea, Stuart Ayres is the Minister responsible for the M4. There will be a rally at his office tomorrow, Monday the 5th. For more detail, visit https://www.evensi.com/rally-outside-stuart-ayres-office-510-high-st-penrith-nsw/213033174

Save 40 Minutes? Less than 15, says traffic expert.

At the NSW Upper House Inquiry into Road Tolling on 22 May, Professor
David Hensher, Director of the Institute of Transport and Logistics
Studies at the University of Sydney, was asked whether WestConnex would save
drivers 40 minutes on a trip between Parramatta and Sydney Airport.

Professor Hensher replied:

“It is too high; I do not believe it”.

Earlier the same day, Labor MLC John Graham had tabled an RMS document
showing that drivers would save around 15 minutes.

Professor Hensher said the prediction was unrealistic:

“15 minutes [would be] the best-case scenario … These are the optimistic numbers”.

The full transcript is available here:
https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/DBAssets/InquiryEventTranscript/Transcript/9919/Transcript%20-%2022%20May%202017%20-%20UNCORRECTED.pdf

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Citizen’s complaint to Minister for Planning Rob Stokes about failures in Westconnex planning process

Introduction

The People’s M4 EIS website has been quiet since submissions closed. 17 submissions were received from Government agencies and Local Councils. Approximately 4800 community groups and individuals also made submissions.

Normally ‘submitters’ as they are known are sent notification letters with a number that they can then look up in the Response to submissions report to see how ‘the proponent’, in this case Westconnex, has responded to their submission.

On this occasion, the Response to submissions report explicitly stated that letters had been sent – in fact, as far as People’s M4 East EIS is aware, these letters were never sent.  One of the People’s M4 EIS editors  has made a detailed complaint to the Department secretary Carolyn McNally which she has posted on her blog.

Today, we publish a second complaint from a resident John Hyde who lives near the M4 East project in Ashfield. If you have any questions for John or want advice on sending your own letter, post your comment at the bottom of this post. Continue reading

Haberfield & Dobroyd Point School P & Cs say M4 East threatens safety of children

The Inner West Courier reported today:

“The parents at Haberfield Public School fear our children will be at the centre of a toxic triangle of pollution stack and portals after three or more years of construction just metres away from the school,” Haberfield Public School P & C vice president Sherrill Nixon said.

Ms Nixon said the streets around Haberfield Public School will see three years of noise and heavy truck movements during construction, only to end up with polluting exhaust stacks less than 500m away.

“The impact on our school community is devastating,” she said. “We insist our kids’ learning and wellbeing comes first.”

During construction, the parents fear that safety of children hasn’t been considered, with extra construction vehicles to be in the area around Reg Coadie Reserve.”

Dobroyd Pt Public school Parents and Citizens Association is also concerned about danger to the health and safety of children. (Ed: The M4 East EIS Social Impact study omitted to include impacts on the Dobroyd Point Public School. )

Labor MP for Summer Hill Jo Haylen is also quoted in the Inner West Courier report:

“The parents are not alone in having doubts about the WestConnex project, with Summer Hill Labor member Jo Haylen also expressing her doubts.

“WestConnex fails when it comes to traffic congestion, air quality, heritage preservation and unfair acquisitions,” Ms Haylen said.

“Our kids will look back and shake their heads that WestConnex was ever built, but in the short-term, they’ll have to deal with the immediate construction chaos.”

Read the full story.

Department of Planning publishes M4EIS submissions –

Today, the NSW Department of Planning and Environment published the submissions for the WestCONnex M4 East.

Normally the Department publishes the name of the person who has sent in the submission with an accompanying PDF. Here’s an example from the Northconnex.

If you took a quick look at the Planning Department’s M4 East page, you could mistakenly think there were only 60 public submissions. In fact there are 4877 public submissions dumped into 60 unlabelled PDFS. The vast majority of submissions ‘object’ to to the project. Even those who only ‘comment’ rather than ‘object’ are mostly very critical of the M4 East proposal.

Unless a member of the public trawls through all submissions, he or she won’t easily find their own submission or submissions from the National Trust, the Westconnex Action Group, the No Westconnex Public Transport group and other detailed submissions from groups and experts. If the department is not equipped to deal with thousands of submission, why can’t it slow down the planning process? It is quite unfair for the documentation of public feedback for one planning application to be treated less transparently that others.

The Department’s approach to the publication of public submissions demonstrates their arrogance towards the community and how the planning process is biased and corrupted in favour of the proponent – RMS and Sydney Motorway Corporation.  It’s the same overall undemocratic approach which leads the government to grant construction contracts before the project is approved or a business case is made public.

The Department has claimed in writing that it will rigorously assess all submissions. Do they wonder why the community is cynical about their claims?

The People’s EIS will be going through the submissions and publishing some of them.

In future updates, we’ll report on the 17 Submissions from Agencies and Government Departments. There are hundreds of criticisms of the project in these submissions.

Update: The People’s EIS has complained about the way in which the public submissions have been published on the Department of Planning website. Senior Planner Brent Devine who is managing the process said it was because it had to be done as quickly as possible which simply confirms that the planning process is being rushed to suit the WestCONnex. He is going to look into whether an index with names and suburbs of submitters can be published. We expect to hear back in a day or two.