Council to close streets to limit impact of WestConnex

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore announcing the council will close roads.
May 6, 2017

Lord Mayor Clover Moore has announced the Sydney City Council will permanently close council-owned roads to restrict the impact of traffic from the controversial WestConnex tollway on local residents.

Moore said the city would submit traffic management proposals in coming months to begin the process of closing streets in the vicinity of the proposed St Peters interchange to protect the neighbourhood.

She said: "We're working at two levels: one is better solutions, and the other is to minimise impacts."

The closure of roads is aimed at "minimising" one impact of WestConnex by preventing some of the 60,000 vehicles per day driving from the interchange along Euston Road from travelling onto local residential streets.

"That main thoroughfare... [will have] cars trying to get off it, because there's gridlock there now," Moore said.

She said the closures would follow precedents set in the 1970s and 1980s, when roads in South Paddington, Redfern and Erskineville were closed to mitigate increased traffic due to development.

"We're still trying to reduce the big-picture impact, meanwhile also working on how we put brakes on that through traffic that will be delivered into residential areas."

While the council's eyes were on winning the overall war against WestConnex, "we'll fight the battles," Moore said.

Meanwhile, residents of Sydney's inner west are calling on the government to hand back excess WestConnex land to the local community. After large numbers of homes were compulsorily acquired to build the M4 East tunnel, there is now more than 18 hectares of unused land in Ashfield, Homebush, North Strathfield and Concord available for possible community use.

Residents of Haberfield say the leftover land should be converted to green space. "I'd like to think it would be returned to the community, but I have doubts, especially where developers are involved," local resident Graeme McKay told the ABC.

In the background, the merchant banking vultures are circling as the NSW government seeks an agent to handle the planned sale of WestConnex. The partial sale of the tollway "is shaping up to be one of the most lucrative mandates on offer this year," the Australian reported.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs — infamous for its part in the GFC in 2008 — is said to be one frontrunner, having carried out a scoping study for the sale of WestConnex for the state government last year.

Other favourites for the sales advisory role include JPMorgan and Australia's own bloodsucker, Macquarie Bank. The Gladys Berejiklian government is reported to be preparing to announce the details of the proposed WestConnex sale in June.

Giant infrastructure corporation Transurban is the current front-runner to buy WestConnex. Transurban already owns most of Sydney's tollroad network.

Meanwhile, the community campaign against WestConnex continues to grow and build support. Local anti-Westconnex groups are carrying out a variety of actions against the project.

The group No WestConnex: Public Transport said: "Opposition to WestConnex is gaining momentum in Western Sydney. As more people learn that WestConnex will mean up to $6000 more per year in tolls, and that more than $45 billion of taxpayers' money will be wasted, it is becoming increasingly clear that the cost of WestConnex far outweighs whatever benefit the government claims the polluting toll road will bring."

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