Taxpayers and not tolls to pay for $2.6b motorway to Sydney Airport
Advertisement

Taxpayers and not tolls to pay for $2.6b motorway to Sydney Airport

A motorway extension to Sydney Airport at Mascot costing up to $2.6 billion will not be tolled, Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Wednesday, after securing an agreement with the Sydney Airport Corporation.

The so-called Sydney Gateway project will run from the WestConnex interchange at St Peters, which is currently under construction, to Sydney Airport and closer to Port Botany.

But the project, slated for completion in 2023, will also require major work to existing roads in the area, including the relocation of Airport Drive, and upgrades to Qantas Drive and the road intersection at the Domestic Terminal.

The Sydney Gateway road upgrades

The Sydney Gateway road upgrades

Photo: Sydney Airport

“With Sydney Gateway completed, drivers will be able to travel between Penrith or Parramatta and the Domestic Airport terminal without stopping at a single traffic light,” the Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said.

“This connection will also help to fix notorious bottlenecks and congestion on roads around the Airport, which often create headaches for travellers,” Ms Berejiklian said.

Advertisement

Taxpayers will be billed for the $2.2-$2.6 billion project, which serves as another example of how the announcement of one motorway project in Sydney tends to lead to more.

When the advisory body Infrastructure NSW first proposed WestConnex as a $10 billion solution to Sydney’s transport woes in 2012, it said that motorway would serve as a key connection linking Sydney Airport and Port Botany with western Sydney.

But it was immediately apparent that WestConnex, which has since risen in cost to at least $16.8 billion, stopped well short of Sydney Airport. The Sydney Gateway project was then devised as a separate, taxpayer-funded project.

The $2.6 billion cost of the Sydney Gateway comes in well above the $1.8 billion cited in leaked governmental documents, and the $800 million provided for the project in the WestConnex budget.

Building the Sydney Gateway project required negotiations with Sydney Airport, a major land-owner in the area. Sydney Airport is granting an easement of about 10 hectares for works, for about $170 million in compensation.

The project also involves the duplication of the Port Botany Freight Rail Line, which runs through the area.

Labor's roads spokeswoman, Jodi McKay, said $2.6 billion represented an "extraordinary" amount of money for two kilometre project. "The thing is it is still not going to go to the port," said Ms McKay, pointing out that the road travelled east only as far as the Domestic Terminal.

"You are still going to have heavy vehicles using Foreshore Drive," Ms McKay said.

The chief executive of Sydney Airport, Geoff Culbert, said: “Sydney Gateway will enhance the passenger experience, support the efficiency of our airline and freight operators and ease the commute for the 31,000 people that work at the airport.

The Roads Minister, Melinda Pavey, said that a new M12 motorway to the Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek would not be tolled.

Ms Berejiklian said of the Sydney Gateway: “This investment in vital infrastructure is only possible because of the NSW Liberals & Nationals strong economic management.”

According to Sydney Airport the project will involve a new dedicated Qantas Drive flyover entry to the T2 and T3 terminals, and the widening of Qantas Drive to three lanes in each direction.

The project is contingent on securing environmental and planning approvals.

Other proposed additions to WestConnex include a new harbour tunnel, and new motorways to the Northern Beaches and Sutherland Shire.