NSW Minister for Transport and Roads Andrew Constance announces a move to the next stage of planning for the Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link project in November 2019.
Once again, the state looks intent on pressing ahead with a huge road project without releasing a business case. Among the many concerns is the failure to look at lower-emission alternatives.
Much of the public opposition to the WestConnex project is related to concerns about the impacts on health.
The health concerns that dominate public submissions to the parliamentary inquiry into WestConnex are a reminder that papering over such issues comes back to haunt governments.
The East-West Link is only one example of myriad infrastructure projects that have caused community controversy.
Courtney Biggs/AAP One
We need to consider why transport infrastructure is so controversial, and how politicians can ensure they have the public’s trust when making announcements for all transport projects.
Much of the traffic using Sydney’s Anzac Bridge and, in the distance, Harbour Bridge is travelling through the city centre, not to it or from it.
One potential benefit of WestConnex, which remains untouched, is that it could relieve Sydney’s city centre from cars and make it more pedestrian-friendly.
NSW Sports Minister Stuart Ayres claims Sydney is falling behind other Australian cities in its big sporting event infrastructure.
The New South Wales government has come in for heavy criticism over its $2 billion plan to knock down and rebuild two of Sydney’s largest sports stadiums.
Residents of high-density housing might value features such as balconies, but when roads get busy this increases exposure to pollution.
Many new housing developments are being built along busy roads and rail lines, but lack design features that would reduce occupants’ exposure to harmful traffic pollution.
The public and finance sectors – but not the government, it seems – are questioning the wisdom of investing in infrastructure for projects like the Adani coal mine.
If infrastructure is to meet the needs and challenges of an uncertain future, we need to move beyond the AAA ratings mindset and aim for net-positive social and ecological outcomes as well.
Political calculations drove the Abbott and Baird governments’ decisions on investing taxpayers’ money in the WestConnex project.
Reckless government investment decisions are sadly the norm when it comes to transport infrastructure. Three key checks on the decision-making process can help ensure taxpayers get value for money.
The two NSW motorway projects were unable to consider the issue of access to a mix of transport options, which is a key factor in public health impacts.
Transport infrastructure projects are conceived, planned and assessed in a way that makes it difficult to properly consider their major public health impacts.
The time savings calculated in road project planning are based on incorrect assumptions about driver behaviour.
Projects like Sydney’s WestConnex and Melbourne’s Western Distributor don’t account for real world evidence of driver behaviour in estimating travel time savings.
Opponents of projects are often scorned as NIMBYs, but active citizenship and local consultation are key elements in creating a city that works well for as many people as possible.
Cities are home to many different people who will not always agree. We need to learn to embrace public debate as an ongoing, constructive process for working through diverse views and values.
When public housing like the properties in Sydney’s Millers Point is privatised, it profoundly changes the social mix of the inner city to something much more homogenous.
The NSW government agenda would deny the ‘right to the city’, that network of diverse communities, practices and places which give rise to the convivial and inclusive potential of cities.
Congested roads and overcrowded public transport services are common problems in many of our cities.
Australia's transport infrastructure needs urgent upgrades. But with governments willing to fund only one or two major projects, how do we decide which infrastructure project to prioritise?
The federal and NSW governments have thrown their support behind the WestConnex toll road, but are they looking at the wrong numbers on projected usage?
AAP Image/Paul Miller
Australia has a history of over-predicting the usage of roads, a fact worth remembering when you hear the NSW government say 120,000 cars a day will use Stage 3 of the WestConnex.
Victoria’s voters have spoken – and they have said no to Melbourne’s new freeway tunnel.
AAP Image/Julian Smith
Labor’s state election victory in Victoria has fatally undermined Melbourne’s most controversial tunnel, the now-doomed East-West Link, with new Premier Daniel Andrews pledging to rip up the contracts…