SYDNEY Motorway Corporation (SMC) has admitted that the WestCONnex New M5 will cause incalculable traffic congestion unless other unplanned and largely unfunded toll road projects – including the WestCONnex M4-M5 link, the Sydney Gateway and southern extension – are built as well.
In an email sent to Ben Aveling of Alexandria Residents Action Group (ARAG), Louise Bonny of the SMC admitted only 80% of the “significant increase” in traffic they expect the New M5 will generate around the St Peters Interchange could be accommodated by the existing road network. Ms Bonny went on to explain they were relying on the other toll road projects, saying:
“…the construction of the additional road network components proposed as part of the WestConnex M4-M5 Link, Sydney Gateway and Southern extension projects provide the additional road space and increases the ability to distribute and accommodate the predicted increase in traffic.”
In the same email, Ms Bonny said that the model the SMC is using to forecast traffic flows was unable to predict what would happen if these additional toll roads are not built, because “the model does not function properly and presents results that can be misleading.”
“It’s quite an amazing email,” said Mr Aveling. “They admit they can't model the New M5 without these extra components – the numbers are so far off the scale that their model cannot begin to predict how bad congestion will be. Even with the extra components, their model shows that this is a tunnel to a traffic jam.
“Roads Minister Duncan Gay has admitted streets in this area are ‘already gridlocked’. So why is his government deliberately planning to send thousands more cars a day into this area? They’re trying to force a scenario where more and more toll roads have to be built.”
WestCONnex Action Group (WAG) spokesperson Pauline Lockie agreed. “It’s astonishing that even the people who want to build WestCONnex now admit they’re relying on building more costly toll roads to try and make the New M5 work,” she said.
“Even if the funding for all these toll roads comes through – and it’s a very big ‘if’ – the New M5 will be open for years before the M4-M5 Link and Sydney Gateway are built. And the Baird Government hasn’t even set dates for building the southern extension.
“What’s really staggering is that the SMC has admitted it can’t even model the traffic impacts of the New M5 without these other toll roads – yet it’s now seeking planning approval for the New M5 as a standalone project.
“This latest admission proves what we’ve said all along. WestCONnex will choke Sydney’s streets with cars, and see drivers from western Sydney pay huge tolls to drive straight into inner-city traffic jams.
“It’s not good enough. It's time for Premier Baird to recognise this, stop the disastrous WestCONnex toll road, and invest its $16.8 billion cost in projects that would actually solve Sydney’s transport problems,” said Ms Lockie.
A copy of the email correspondence between ARAG and SMC can be made available to journalists on request.
Media contacts: Pauline Lockie 0414 470 106, Ben Aveling 0407 228 240