Campaign against WestConnex continues

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Opponents of the controversial $18 billion WestConnex tollway have continued protesting around the Inner West, as public opinion is turning against the state government's growing network of tollways, road tunnels, exit ramps and polluting smokestacks.

The anti-WestConnex movement is now spreading into opposition to the government's proposed Northern Beaches Link and the planned F6 expansion threatening a section of the Royal National Park to the south.

A major problem for the government is the increasing public alarm at expensive tolls being placed on all these road developments, including the previously free M4, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and other projects. Regular commuters from the city's west are facing tolls of up to $200 a week.

One important, if limited, win has been the announcement by Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) that the widening of Euston Road, near Sydney Park, will be reduced from seven lanes to six. Euston Road is intended to be a major exit from the WestConnex tunnel at St Peters and will still face an estimated doubling of traffic to 40,000 vehicles a day by 2021.

Under the earlier plan, the widened road would have come within two metres of houses and apartments. While still opposed to the Euston Road expansion as a whole, local residents welcomed the reduced widening decision.

Meanwhile, residents of St Peters have been inflicted with non-stop construction work outside their homes, seven days a week until 10pm, for months. Tamara Reagan, who lives with her family next to the WestConnex construction site, said they had been suddenly told on July 25 that the work would continue for 18 days straight.

"I don't know how much more of this we can take. We've had demolition dust, noise and vibrations for more than six months, trucks idling outside our house at nights, the sickening odour from the old landfill site and now they want to work all day for the next three weeks," she said.

Janet Dandy-Ward, from WestConnex Action Group, said: "If WestConnex can't be built without torturing residents, and putting their health at risk, then it shouldn't be built at all. That's why we are calling for a halt to these works and demanding the premier step in to protect residents and order an independent review of WestConnex."

Residents in St Peters are also angry that WestConnex is using security firm Abacus to "park out" their cars in local streets, in order to claim roadside areas for test and construction works. This is adding one more problem for residents to face as the WestConnex monster gradually advances.

A string of upcoming community meetings will grill candidates for the upcoming September 9 Inner West Council elections on their position on WestConnex.

A survey of Inner West residents last year found 57% were opposed to WestConnex. Since then, there have been a series of leaks of confidential cabinet documents from the Coalition government showing multi-billion-dollar cost blow outs and pollution threats. Local anti-WestConnex activists are confident an even bigger majority now oppose the project.

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