WestConnex ‘can still be stopped’, inquiry told

The Fix NSW Public Transport lantern march through Sydney in August. Photo: Zebedee Parkes

Experts have rejected claims by the new CEO of the controversial $17 billion WestConnex tollway that halting Stage 3 of the project would necessarily cost taxpayers “billions” and have a “detrimental” impact on local neighbourhoods.

Community groups and local councils have instead called for Stage 3, which involves building a tunnel connecting the M4 and M5 motorways, to be abandoned due to concerns over pollution from unfiltered ventilation stacks and disruption to inner-city neighbourhoods from the huge interchanges, among other impacts.

Addressing the state upper house parliamentary inquiry into the impact of WestConnex on October 15, the final day of the hearing, SGS Economics and Planning’s Terry Rawnsley refuted claims that the cancellation of Melbourne’s East West Link motorway project by the Victorian Labor state government in 2015 had led to an investment freeze.

Instead, there had been a “steady flow of investment” into Victoria after the cancellation, Rawnsley said.

City of Sydney mayor Clover Moore said that work on WestConnex, which she described as a “toll-driven, money-making venture developed in secret”, should be halted immediately.

The money should instead be spent on more public transport and building a direct route to Sydney Airport and Port Botany, Moore said.

No WestConnex: Public Transport representative John Lozano asked the inquiry to request an “independent assessment” of the actual cost of stopping the motorway’s final stage

The inquiry is due to report its findings by December 1.

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