Secret freeway deal?

Issue 

Secret freeway deal?

SYDNEY — "Has a secret deal been struck between the Roads and Traffic Authority and StateWide Roads Ltd or any other company?", asked NSW Democrat MP Richard Jones here on March 24. Jones had obtained a leaked copy of a viability study on three Sydney freeways, the F4, F5 and F2. The F2, a 23 km road from Blacktown to North Ryde, appears particularly wasteful, Jones said.

"It is clear that misleading figures on road building costs were given to the Woodward Commission of Inquiry. Commissioner Woodward was told that the cost per kilometre would not exceed $10 million, whereas the actual cost will exceed $20 million per kilometre."

The F2 is one of the projects earmarked by the Greiner government for private construction and operation, but Jones says that at best the projected rate of return on the road would be a tiny 0.4%, and in view of a likely cost blowout from $221 to $500 million, the private tollway would need a public subsidy of around $300 million.

"One questions why the RTA has distorted the picture to make the F2 freeway appear to be a viable option when clearly it is not", said Jones. He asked if associated real estate deals had been offered to the freeway company.