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NSW roads minister makes case for WestConnex project

Duncan Gay says the WestConnex project will help deliver a “quantum leap” in Sydney’s economic growth.

 

“The worst thing we can do is nothing.”

Or so says New South Wales Roads and Freight Minister Duncan Gay. 

Those words were part of a strident defence of the planned WestConnex motorway project – in effect a widening, extension, and linking of the existing M4 and M5 motorways –that Gay provided to the Sydney Morning Herald last week.

“Without a world-class motorway network, Sydney’s traffic will grind to a halt by the end of this decade,” he warns.

“So, too, would the economy of Australia’s most populous city, which is forecast to grow by another 1.5 million people by 2031.”

He says the WestConnex widening and linking of the M4 and M5 “should have happened more than a decade ago”.

Politics was the stumbling block then, Gay says.

Today, he says the project is “too important” to let politics get in the way of.

“Our city is on the cusp of another quantum leap in growth. We can be crippled by timidity or inspired by action,” he says.

Of course, timidity is only possible in the face of opposition, which is certainly present in the case of WestConnex.

Both the Labor Opposition and the Greens party oppose the project, arguing that greater investments in public transport will achieve the same outcomes at lower costs.

“It seems crazy for Sydney to build a new motorway through the densely populated inner west, with the associated health impacts from exhaust stacks, the loss of housing through acquisitions, and of course, the extra traffic dumped on local roads,” Greens candidate Max Phillips told a community forum last week.

But the project is going ahead regardless, something the local transport industry is thankful for.

Australian Trucking Association NSW (ATA NSW) manager Jodie Broadbent says the WestConnex upgrades will allow for faster travel times and greater safety for heavy vehicles travelling through Sydney.

She says truck owners are prepared and happy to contribute reasonable tolls to the project’s funding.

Construction work is expected to begin in early 2015.

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