WestConnex plan finalised

Posted: September 19, 2013 in Transport
Tags: ,

Video: Biggest transport project in Australia to begin, NSW Government

The 33km WestConnex freeway will be completed by 2023 and cost between $11bn and $11.5bn, many billions of dollars less than the previously cited figure of $13-$15bn. The project will be completed in stages, starting with the existing M4 freeway between Parramatta and Strathfield (2017), followed by the M4 East to the City West Link at Haberfield (2019), then the M5 East widening (2020), and finally the M4 South linking up the two (2023).

Delivery timeline for WestConnex. Click to enlarge. (Source: RMS)

Delivery timeline for WestConnex. Click to enlarge. (Source: RMS)

Once completed, it will link up the M4 and M5 via the airport, but not provide a direct link to the Sydney CBD. This link had been made a requirement of both major parties for federal funding of WestConnex prior to the previous election, and it remains to be seen whether the incoming Abbott Government will provide its promised $1.5bn of funding without a direct link to the CBD (it may decide that the City West Link provides such a link – something that the previous government did not). This lack of such a link has been supported in the past by this blog, as roads are a poor way of providing access to the CBD but do provide good access for dispersed trips, which will account for 60% of trips made on the M4 East according to Roads Minister Duncan Gay.

Map of the WestConnex freeway. Click to enlarge. (Source: RMS)

Map of the WestConnex freeway. Click to enlarge. (Source: RMS)

Another major benefit of WestConnex will be the urban renewal that its construction will facilitate. By removing car traffic from surface streets, traffic can be calmed through lower speed limits, wider footpaths, bus lanes, bike paths, etc. This in turn can be the catalyst for higher housing densities and active streets, with shops, cafes, and restaurants.

Before and after of Parramatta Rd at Five Dock. WestConnex will allow for wider footpaths, more bus lanes, and more active surface streets. Click to enlarge. (Source: RMS).

Before (right) and after (left) of Parramatta Rd at Five Dock. WestConnex will allow for wider footpaths, more bus lanes, and more active surface streets. Click to enlarge. (Source: RMS, modified by author)

WestConnex has been opposed by groups like The Greens, who have called on the $3.3bn of government funding to instead be spent on light rail, and Eco Transit, who have put forward their own proposed public transport alternative to reduce congestion.

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Comments
  1. mich says:

    The promotion of this is a joke. First, they are recycling the old video, where the woman manages to include “city”, “siddy”, “community” and “communiddy” in the same paragraph.

    And then, these laughable artists impressions. The Herald has one, with the intersection of Burwood Road. All those huge trees in the sidewalk next to the pub, and if you look closely, the sidewalk is no wider, and the trees are growing under the awning of the pub.

    And a U-shaped freeway is a great way of getting from A to B.

    Not linking to the CBD lacks credibility. Even if you want to discourage people driving to the CBD, there is no connectivity to the eastern or south-eastern suburbs.

    The “slot” seems to have disappeared.

  2. mich says:

    I suspect one of the hidden agendas here, is an expansion of the city west link road, breaking various past undertakings about the Haberfield foreshore area.

  3. JC says:

    EEK. Extend M5 to St Peters in 2020. Build St Peters to Haberfield 2023. Poor King Street! Not to mention Newtown property values. And still no motorway link to Port Botany.

  4. Ray says:

    I think the lack of a motorway standard link to the CBD is a huge mistake, not as a means of providing enhanced commuter access, but providing enhanced access for commercial vehicles that service the CBD and also as a bypass of the CBD for traffic in general between Western Sydney and the Eastern Suburbs and Lower North Shore (via the Cross City Tunnel and Harbour Bridge).

    Over 70% of commuters to the CBD travel by public transport and that is not going to change, even with a direct motorway connection, because of the cost and limited availability of all day parking. It is nonsense to suggest that having a direct motorway connection to the CBD will encourage more commuters to drive instead of using public transport.

    At the very least, the City West Link should also be upgraded to a 4 (preferably 6) lane grade separated route between the M4 extension and the Anzac Bridge to complete the missing link in the motorway network.

    Rather than narrowing Parramatta Rd, the opportunity should also be taken to extend the CBD Light Rail to at least Strathfield, and preferably to Olympic Park, to link up with Parramatta City Council’s proposed Western Sydney Light Rail Network.

  5. mich says:

    Not wanting to gainsay what you have said, but the problem with the CityLink road, is the capacity of Anzac Bridge. You can widen the road, but not the bridge, and replace those ridiculous traffic lights at Lilyfield with a grade separation, but you still run into the capacity problem of combining the flow from Victoria Road and CityLink together. It would be a simple improvement to build a short flyover to carry westbound traffic off the anzac bridge over the intersection of Victoria Road and the road that goes to Glebe.

    I am not convinced that there are enough people wanting to drive to the airport from the west, either. But it is a problem that there is no decent road from Leichhardt to the Airport. I lived there for years, and could never remember how to get through the maze between Newtown and Marrickville. But whether you want a multi-billion tunnel to solve that problem, I don’t know. There is GPS now.

    The M5 leads right to the airport. Improving links between the M4 and M5 might be more useful. A short tunnel at the intersection of Metroad 3 and Canterbury Road would be a good start.

    I am not convinced anyone would want to ride a tram from the CBD to Olympic Park, trains are three times faster. Trams are slow.

  6. Simon says:

    Ray, while it is true that PT use to the Sydney CBD is likely to remain high, there still needs to be effort to increase it. Note that people driving to work to the Sydney CBD increased between 2001-2011 (source: charting transport), with some of the losses in PT use clawed back between 2006-2011. While I am sure that the drivers shortage had an effect, I think the M5 east also did. If we build a motorway to the CBD, demand for parking will increase, making it harder to close existing parking and possibly more CBD parking will be established.

    Other capitals have reduced the number of cars coming into the CBD in a similar period.

  7. mich says:

    Other cities have reduced cars coming in…. from a much higher level.

  8. mich says:

    Not everyone works in the CBD. The real problem is that only about 3% of non-CBD workers use public transport.

  9. Ray says:

    In reply to mich, I agree that there could be a problem in merging 3 lanes from an upgraded City West Link with 2 lanes from Victoria Rd onto 4 lanes on the Anzac Bridge, but nonetheless, there has to be a motorway standard link from the M4 to the city centre and the Harbour Bridge and Cross City Tunnel to complete a fully connected motorway network. I’d settle for the existing 2 lanes each way on the City West Link if it was grade separated.

    The connection between the M4 East and the M5 East as part of the WestConnex proposal would obviously be of benefit in providing easier access to Sydney Airport without having to navigate the maze of local traffic routes through the Inner West. However this link in the WestConnex proposal is part of a longer term strategy to provide a motorway standard link from the M2 to the future F6 (M1) Princes Motorway.

    With regard to a Light Rail link along Parramatta Rd, I was not suggesting that this would be an alternative to the train link for longer distance passengers, but more of a complementary service for passengers travelling between intermediate destinations along the route.

  10. Nathan says:

    It’s really great to see there’s a shifting of attitude’s towards better road infrastructure in general for NSW, but once again there seems to be no promotion of what the overall future vision is for the surrounding road infrastructure that feeds into and out of these massive projects Eg A new M4-North Shore harbour crossing that avoids the CBD/Harbour bridge route all together, Capacity upgrades & removal of traffic lights on City West Link, Harbour Tunnel, Eastern Distributor, Southern Cross Drive, Foreshore Rd, The Sydney Airport ring road and links into and out of the airport!

    I’m surprised there has been no talk of a North-South freeway link through inner/mid western Sydney. The King Georges Rd-Roberts Rd-Centenary Dr-Lane Cove Rd chain of roads is absolutely choked for most of everyday and i still can’t see past how it has always been considered that an “orbital” network of roads that generally takes you far east or west of your ultimate north-south direction of travel is going to be sufficient for the flow of future traffic in Sydney.

    Focus on the F6 link needs far greater priority in conjunction with all of the above. I can’t see growth in the Newcastle – Sydney – Wollongong corridor stalling anytime soon!

  11. MrV says:

    Good old Sydney building motorways in tunnels at 10x the price. Then wonder why roading infrastructure sucks.

  12. Ray says:

    In response to Nathan, consultants Evans & Peck had proposed a few years ago that an Inner West Bypass be constructed to avoid the congested Sydney Harbour Bridge/Harbour Tunnel corridor. It would stretch by tunnel from the existing M1 (F3) Pacific Motorway at Wahroonga generally following the alignment of the Pacific Hwy and Ryde and Lane Cove Rds to the M2 Motorway at North Ryde, then linking up with the Gladesville Bridge by the approximate route of the previously cancelled Lane Cove Valley Freeway.

    From the Gladesville Bridge it would then proceed by tunnel under Victoria Rd, interchanging with the then proposed M4 East in the vicinity of the Rozelle rail yards and then continue in tunnel to the M5 East Motorway near Sydney Airport and ultimately to connect with the future M1 (F6) Princes Motorway extension. This would provide a direct motorway link between the North Coast and South Coast, bypassing the congested Sydney CBD.

    The Iemma Labor Government’s proposal for the M4 East extension partly acknowledged this concept by including a link with the Gladesville Bridge, but on a different alignment interchanging with the M4 East at Leichhardt instead of Rozelle and then proceeding to the M5 East. The WestConnex proposal basically follows this concept but excludes motorway standard connections to the Gladesville Bridge and Anzac Bridge, as well as Parramatta Rd/Broadway at Glebe. It appears that the WestConnex proposal has compromised both the preferred M4 East and M5 East extensions to fit within a budget, which has been typical of NSW transport planning for decades.

    It shouldn’t be forgotten that the previous Labor government constructed the original toll free M5 East at tax payers’ expense with only 2 lanes each way to keep down the cost, when logic demanded that it should have been 3 lanes each way. We are now faced with the inevitable cost escalation in redressing this poor decision making. You can add to that the original M2 Motorway which abruptly finished at the Lane Cove River disgorging its traffic onto Epping Rd through Lane Cove instead of extending through to the Gore Hill Freeway. The ill-fated Lane Cove Tunnel at far greater expense was the inevitable consequence. When will they ever learn?

  13. mich says:

    As you say, a tram along Parramatta Road would be a useful local link. The problem then is lack of interconnectivity with the train line and the main shopping strips such as Burwood and Ashfield. If there was demand, there would be buses already, and actual bus services on Parramatta Road west of Norton Street are actually very small ( although the busy link to Five Dock runs a block away ).

    Metroad 3 is already a lot better than it was 20 years ago. I don’t think it can ever be a full freeway though. They just need to keep upgrading the key bottlenecks. It’s obvious, where they are. You could start with a flyover at Canterbury Road, and banning parking outside the McDonalds at North Ryde – they have a carpark round the back.

    If you want to build a new north-south connection east of Metroad 3 and west of the Harbour Bridge/Tunnel/Eastern Distributor, there are a whole host of problems. There is almost nowhere to put any of it, unless you build a huge tunnel. It’s not really clear why you think you need one, the “orbital motorway” is in fact complete, and leads from the north to the airport, and is not critically congested for 23 hours of the day ( if there are no accidents ).

    If you want to go from the north to the south ( Sutherland, Wollongong ), you already have metroad 3 and the road through Punchbowl if you don’t like that one. Or the Harbour Bridge/Eastern distributor. It’s not obvious why you need another one. If you want to drive from, say, Chatswood to Ashfield, it is annoying that you have to sort of zig-zag south east to lane cove, and then west to gladesville, and then south-east to drummoyne, and then south-west to russel lea, and finally to ashfield. But what is the cost of the alternative ? And how many people actually want to drive from chatswood to ashfield ? I used to travel this route often, and the key fixes are simple, like, why is there no right turn at the great northern hotel ?

  14. Ray says:

    I don’t think you have ever travelled the Metroad 3 (now A3) in peak hours. It’s a carpark and it’s not a motorway standard link and is never likely to be. An Inner West Bypass via the Gladesville Bridge or even a tunnel option bypassing the congested the Harbour Bridge/Harbour Tunnel corridor , is a far more suitable long term option providing a more direct traffic route between the Pacific Motorway (M1) and the future Princes Motorway extension (M1).

  15. mich says:

    Have you actually looked on a map, what a direct connection would be ?

  16. Ray says:

    Mich, you obviously haven’t looked at a map. The most direct connection between the F3 (M1) Pacific Motorway and future F6 (M1) Princes Motorway is via a proposed Inner West Bypass. It runs midway between the Sydney Harbour Bridge/Harbour Tunnel corridor and the A3 corridor. As I understand it, the WestConnex proposal includes part of the Inner West Bypass with the provision for the future extension to the Pacific Motorway and Princes Motorway to provide a seamless bypass route of the Sydney CBD.

  17. Mark Rath says:

    A highway interchange St Peters/tunnel under Newtown.chimney stacks !
    This is poor outdated solution for the future,how about better public transport and a clean environment for the future.
    An outdated solution with an American style interchange ,are we serious and at what cost.
    These people that approve such projects obviously don’t live anywhere near these developments,are very old fashioned thinkers and have no real future vision !
    This is extremely sad news for the inner west .

  18. Julie Walton says:

    11 billion on Wasteconnex is 11 billion too much. That could fund the cross harbour rail link or all 4 of the light rail lines proposed for Parramatta. We have chased our tails with motorways that fill up as soon as they’re built and do nothing in longer term to reduce congestion. And they destroy streets and neighbourhoods – King St Newtown looking like the next victim.

  19. Julie Walton says:

    Can’t work, won’t work. Commercial vehicles still won’t benefit because they will be outnumbered and clogged up by private motorists attracted to new roadspace and deterred from using public transport because there wasn’t enough money left to provide it. Private motorists won’t benefit for long – like every other motorway this one will soon fill up with induced traffic. How long will we continue this ridiculous and wasteful tailchasing? Better to use the money to get private motorists onto high quality public transport, freeing up roadspace for commercial vehicles. Win-win. Give the money to Gladys as a birthday present, Mike. Duncan is about to spray it up the same old wall.

  20. Robert says:

    This project is now going all guns blazing. there has been a slight update to the map which I found posted on https://www.buildsydney.com/forum/transport-infrastructure/westconnex-maps/ but overall it looks like we are going to be paying for the M4 again

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