Rather than reducing traffic congestion in Sydney, a report commissioned by the Leichhardt Council has found that the giant WestConnex tollway project will increase traffic problems in the city's inner west.
The report, which analysed the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the M4 East component of WestConnex — a tunnel from Concord to Ashfield — was released on October 20.
The report highlights the fact that the tollway project will lead to greater congestion at important intersections along Parramatta Road and Dobroyd Parade-City West Link. This in turn will increase traffic build up on other streets and “rat-runs” through the inner-city area.
Meanwhile, the community campaign against WestConnex continues to build. Pickets and temporary blockades have been regular occurrences at the Alexandria-St Peters waste disposal site, near Sydney Park, where asbestos removal is being undertaken without proper safety measures.
Anti-WestConnex campaign activist Andrew Chuter told Green Left Weekly at a picket of the St Peters landfill site on October 22: “Our aim is to delay and disrupt the transport of unsafe asbestos waste from the Alexandria/St Peters site by WestConnex.
“Trucks from here are frequently not properly covered, the wheels are not watered down correctly, they are using a non-approved exit, including out of authorised hours, and they are spreading asbestos dust on local residential streets, endangering the community.
“The campaign against WestConnex is becoming increasingly radicalised. Community opponents of this disastrous project are now adopting direct action tactics, as were employed successfully in Melbourne against the former East-West Link tollway scheme,” Chuter said.
Protests have also been happening in Haberfield where WestConnex contractors called in police against residents who entered a geotechnical drilling site to demand to know why work on the M4 East project was commencing before planning approval had been granted.
WestCONnex Action Group spokesperson Sharon Laura said on September 29: “No one here trusts WestConnex. And this looks like another example of the utterly corrupted processes the [Mike] Baird government is using to try and rush this $15.4 billion sham toll road through.
“We are not going to simply stand aside while WestConnex destroys our neighbourhoods - and for a toll road that will do nothing except deliver drivers in western Sydney straight into an inner-city traffic jam.
“This community stands united and we will not stop these actions until WestConnex stops the secrecy,” Laura said.
Protests by residents at the Haberfield drilling site are ongoing.
In a further step to increase public awareness of the WestConnex nightmare, EcoTransit Sydney has begun mass distributing a broadsheet, EcoTransit News, with the headline “WestConnex? $15 billion down a hole!”
“If it were ever completed, WestConnex would be the biggest underground motorway system anywhere in the world, and certainly, per kilometre, the most expensive,” the broadsheet notes.
“This gigantic project, which would take at least 10 years to finish, is being forced on the NSW taxpayer at a time when the rest of the world has sworn off urban motorways. It will suck public funds out of vital public transport projects and much needed regional infrastructure.
“Global experience since the 1950s has conclusively demonstrated that urban motorways are counterproductive. Over past decades, when crude oil was abundant and petroleum cheap, big new road capacity immediately generated big new traffic. The new roads quickly reached capacity. There was more air and noise pollution and, inevitably, less open space.
“For these reasons, and with the rapidly escalating energy crisis in mind, the rest of the world has turned to mass transit solutions - rail and light rail in particular. But the NSW government is clinging doggedly to a failed idea.”
[Click here to view the report commissioned by Leichhardt Council. Further information is available at Ecotransit Sydney — Advocating Public & Active Transport.]