License article

Tunnel vision must come with more answers if it is road map for future

Choose your adjective: city-changing; retrograde; transformative; overdue; ignorant; wasteful; visionary.

Whatever you think of it, the O'Farrell government's WestConnex, if it is built, will be one of the biggest things to happen to Sydney for many a decade.

But beyond that it is hard to know what to make of a project that at this stage is little more than a line on a map, unless you happen to work for one of the myriad investment banks or consulting firms to whom it has already become a gravy train.

The former premier and head of Infrastructure NSW, Nick Greiner, was fond of saying people needed to ''get religion'' on WestConnex. The project was not a motorway, he said, but a catalyst for urban development and regeneration.

This sounds fine. But will it actually happen, for instance, on the four-kilometre stretch of Parramatta Road between Ashfield and Strathfield under which a tunnel will be dug as one of the first stretches of motorway? If the motorway is put below the ground, what will emerge above the surface to give the community a return on its $3 billion to $4 billion investment on the road underneath?

Sydney doesn't have enough good quality housing linked to good quality public transport. What guarantee is there a motorway under Parramatta Road will trigger the construction of the type of housing people will want to live in near the types of transport they want to use?


Then there are the traffic issues. For instance, what will happen to motorists when they drive east off the three-lane WestConnex at Ashfield onto the two-lane City West Link to the city?

What sort of toll will motorists be asked to pay? If you don't want to pay the toll, how much longer will your trip be than it is now?

These are the types of questions that emerge simply from news that the first part of the 33-kilometre and $13 billion WestConnex motorway will be built to Ashfield.

When the government eventually gets around to releasing its expensively assembled business case into the project, it best be ready with some answers.


Comment are now closed