City News

Westconnex tunnel vision

Jamie Parker talks WestConnex at Balmain Town Hall. Photo: supplied.

BY LANIE TINDALE

“They should actually get the WestConnex project, set fire to it, and put it in the garbage can. That’s what I think the alternative to Stage Three of WestConnex is” said Jamie Parker, NSW MP for Balmain.

“The City of Sydney does have some alternatives to Stage Three, and … I agree with like 90 per cent of the proposal. The intention of it I definitely agree with.”

The 2017 City of Sydney report recommended the NSW Government abandon Stage Three of the WestConnex, and cede construction of an M5 tunnel. It instead recommends the NSW Government build a direct motorway between Port Botany and Sydney Airport, bring forward proposed underground railway Sydney Metro West to Haberfield, upgrade the A3 connector road between the M4 and M5, and “connect the City West link to the Eastern Distributor via the Cross City Tunnel”.

When the report was released, Premier Gladys Berejiklian told the Sydney Morning Herald, “I respect people have strong opinions on this project but the City of Sydney does not represent greater western Sydney where the public will benefit from this massive road project.”

Mr. Parker, a former Leichhardt Mayor, explicitly supported proposed underground rail network the Sydney Metro West during his presentation.

“The Western metro could be really important … We’re supporting more stops rather than less”.

He also said he wanted the Western Harbour Tunnel to be built using “a conventional tunnel rather than using a trench.

“If they do want to build a trench, the impact of the casting plant on White Bay is really significant. So they could consider casting those tunnel pipes at Port Kembla, which is where they did the casting for the pipes for the Cross Sydney Tunnel.”

Trenching, also known as cut and cover construction, involves digging a large hole which is covered by a concrete deck.

Construction is completed in the tunnel while life as usual (largely) resumes above it. It is cheaper than tunnelling but requires the use of pollution ventilation pipes.

During a presentation in Balmain Town Hall on Thursday the 8th of May, Mr. Parker conceded that conventional tunnelling is more difficult than trenching because “grades are challenging and it’s more expensive” but believes it is worth the extra cost.

Mr. Parker’s presentation addressed various local concerns, including the proposed Western Harbour Tunnel, which will link Rozelle to the Northern Beaches.

Former Leichhardt Councillor Kath Hacking attended the event and opposes the WestConnex. “I’m yet to be convinced that the WestConnex is going to achieve all of the needs of the community … I believe the government has not been honest with us on many aspects of the WestConnex”.

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