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Industry ire at TFNSWs Sydney Gateway ramps approach

Strong rebuttal of department’s reasoning on huge Cooks River Intermodal Terminal


The NSW government’s decision to remove Cooks River Intermodal Terminal (CRIT) ramps from the Sydney Gateway project remains flawed and its defence by Transport for NSW (TfNSW) has damaged the department’s reputation, a grand alliance of freight transport and logistics groups charges.

The grouping comprises the Australian Logistics Council (ALC), Australian Trucking Association (ATA), Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA), Freight & Trade Alliance (FTA), Road Freight NSW (RFNSW) and Shipping Australia Limited (SAL) reacts with trenchant criticism to the NSW government’s the Sydney Gateway Road Project: response to submissions report.

That report seeks to explain the department’s thinking following submissions received on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and draft Major Development Plan (MDP) for Sydney Gateway.

“The response admits that heavy vehicles travelling between Australia’s largest empty container facility the Cooks River Intermodal Terminal (CRIT) and Port Botany will continue to use local residential streets through Mascot,” the group states.

“Despite the clear concerns of industry and local residents’ groups, the response fails to provide any clear solution.”

It finds the department’s assertion: “Transport has been working with the freight industry throughout 2019 to further consider dedicated heavy vehicle access onto and off the project at Canal Road”, particularly disturbing.

“Although there have been discussions, industry feels that Roads and Maritime Services (now Transport for NSW) has continually failed to address these matters in good faith. This response merely strengthens the impression that the serious concerns of industry and residents are being brushed aside,” the alliance says.

Read how the alliance first coalesced around the ramps issue, here

The issue that brought the sometimes fractious freight organisations in a rare unison surfaced last year, when it became clear the ramps were being jettisoned for cost reasons.

“While Canal Road ramps are not part of the Sydney Gateway scope or funding package approved by the NSW Government, its design will not preclude ramps at Canal Road being incorporated at a later date,” a TfNSW spokesperson said at the time, while noting they “would require a separate business case with funding, and approvals from Sydney Airport and Government”.  

When Sydney Gateway was first proposed several years ago, the design included ramps to service CRIT, the alliance notes.

“Ramps at Canal Road will remove at least 1,600 truck movements a day from local roads – enhancing safety, reducing congestion and improving community amenity in an area that is increasingly popular for residential developments,” it says.

“In fact, close to one quarter (23 per cent) of all submissions received by Government expressed concern at the effect removing ramps at Canal Road would have for businesses and residents.

“Removing the ramps from the project in an attempt to reduce costs is a short-sighted move that significantly diminishes the potential freight benefits of the Gateway project and flies in the face of industry and community concern.

“Moreover, it will effectively isolate the nation’s largest empty container park from this new major port road artery, and condemns local Mascot residents to ongoing truck noise, safety and emission risks.”

Unique facility

The alliance also has concerns on the department’s analysis on container traffic growth.

“The Government’s response makes a number of flawed assumptions around container volumes travelling to and from the west and south-west of Sydney and the options for additional empty container park capacity,” it says.

“Although that region will play a vital role in helping manage Sydney’s growing freight task, CRIT’s proximity to the port means it will always be a critical facility for many logistics operators and shipping lines servicing Port Botany that cannot be replicated elsewhere. 

“Essentially rendering CRIT an ‘island’ the middle of this major road infrastructure project and denying its users direct access is both illogical and irresponsible.

“To claim that ‘modelling’ does not support construction of these ramps is disingenuous, given that the original modelling undertaken to assess the ramps included passenger vehicles.

“As far as industry is aware, no modelling has been done to assess the efficacy of dedicated ramps for the exclusive use of heavy vehicles, nor the benefits to the freight industry and total port supply chain.

“At very least, such modelling needs to be undertaken by the NSW Government before any credible conclusion about the viability of dedicated ramps for heavy vehicles at Canal Road can be reached.

“We call on the NSW Government to undertake this modelling as a matter of urgency – and to share the results with industry and with local residents.”

As it is a broadly policy issue, ATN sought a response from state transport minister Andrew Constance’s office, which has passed it on to the department.

More to come


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