Media Release 2014-02-13 — Westconnex

Inner West Locals get organised to stop the WestConnex toll road.

On Wednesday 12 February 2014 at Herb Greedy Hall in Marrickville the community hosted a meeting to hear about the WestConnex from noted transport planner Michelle Zeibots and public transport advocate Gavin Gatenby.

Gavin Gatenby is the co-convenor of Ecotransit Sydney, a community-based transport advocacy group. Ecotransit Sydney grew out the city resident’s long running fight for sensible modern transport planning, and was instrumental in ensuring the construction of the Airport Rail Link and the Inner West Light Rail. Mr Gatenby delivered a detailed presentation on the proposal and its impacts on the Inner West.

“An unholy convergence of interests has gathered around WestConnex. The big construction companies want a multi-billion contract that’ll run for years, the developers want the government to resume whole slabs of the inner west and sell it to them for high-rise, and the tollway companies are trying to salvage a failed business model by generating another round of traffic growth with car-based redevelopment. It’s all backed by new planning laws stack the deck against local government, residents and small business. Sydney ‘s road traffic has been almost flatlining for a decade. The tragedy is that if we were to spend a fraction of the funds earmarked for WestConnex on public transport solutions it would fall dramatically.” EcoTransit Co-Convenor Gavin Gatenby said.

Dr Michelle Zeibots is a transport planner and research principle in transport at the Institute of Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney . Her research into road capacity, traffic speeds and volumes is widely respected and cited.

Dr Zeibots talked about her experience as an expert adviser on the transport panel during the drafting of the NSW Transport Masterplan. Working with the department and minister, the experts believed the state was ready to build the vital second harbour rail crossing, which would increase the Sydney rail network’s capacity by 50 per cent. Then just weeks before the master plan was released, WestConnex and other motorways motorways appeared in the plan and were given priority by the government.

Dr Zeibots refuted the argument that the motorway will reduce traffic and congestion, by citing the many examples of induced traffic; especially her research into the significant induced traffic caused last time the M4 was extended.

“It was great to see so many residents attending. We saw the government’s plans for a massive elevated motorway through Tempe , St Peters and the much loved Sydney Park. We saw the government’s plans for high-rise apartment towers throughout the Inner West, vertical car-based urban sprawl. We heard how per-capita traffic has dropped back to 1990’s levels. We heard that right now it would be really easy to build a high capacity light rail from Parramatta along the current Parramatta Rd. ” said Mathew Hounsell president of NoWestconnex (NoW Public Transport)

“It’s funny to hear the government taking about sweating the city’s public transport assets. We’re already so crammed into overcrowded trains, how much more can we sweat?” said Mathew Hounsell.

Attendees asked if there were any new schools planned as part of this urban development?; Why can’t the councils get any detailed information?; The recent tollways in Sydney have been failures, why are they building more?; How will the cost of this affect the disadvantaged in our community?; Who created the WestConnex?; What about the mobility impaired?; What about the buses the government has cancelled?; What are the alternatives?; How do we work with other people in our community?

The meeting enthusiastically passed the following motion “This public meeting rejects Westconnex and calls on Marrickville Council, all local councils on the route, and local Members of Parliament to run a fully-funded campaign against the Westconnex toll road.”

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