Residents protest opening of WestConnex tunnel

Photo: Anne Picot

Residents gathered at several sites near entrances to the environmentally and socially disastrous WestConnex tollway tunnel on July 13 to protest the opening of the NSW Coalition government's signature $27 billion transport nightmare.

At Ashfield Park, adjacent to a nearby tunnel entrance, protesters displayed banners reading “Sydney needs more trains and buses, not tollroads” and “Crowded trains, traffic jams and tolls: Who wins? Who loses?”

Motorists, who face tolls of more than $4 for each tunnel voyage, tooted in support of the protest. Many supportive honks came from truck drivers, who will be forced to pay almost $13 for each WestConnex trip.

Residents living around entry and exit ramps in the suburbs of Haberfield, Ashfield and Concord have described the M4 East as a “recipe for injury and accident”.

The Coalition Against WestConnex has noted that the M4 East tunnel will encourage and generate more local traffic and add to congestion and air pollution in Sydney’s inner west and CBD.

Haberfield resident Sharon Laura, who lives close to the tunnel, said: “The government and WestConnex Transurban can spin it in so many ways, but the real legacy of WestConnex will be a city increasingly dependent on car travel, with more congestion and air pollution.

“Westconnex is simply the wrong project at the wrong time. And we will all pay for this mistake for the next 40 years and more.”

Meanwhile, Sydney City Council Lord Mayor Clover Moore has slammed a decision by WestConnex to override the council and use the Roads Act to force its way into Sydney Park and undertake investigation work for tunnelling associated with a further stage of the project.

The move means large trucks and drilling rigs will enter the park to dig deep holes, disrupting community access to the iconic park.

Moore said the move to “force their way ... into the backyard for over 20,000 city residents” came at short notice, and that the council would do all it can to limit its impact.

“It’s outrageous that this project will further impact on the inner city's precious parklands and the city will continue to fight to ensure Sydney Park is preserved, not trashed for the sake of a tollroad,” she said.

Drilling is planned to begin from July 18.

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