90 houses may need demolishing at a cost of $370m

November 3, 2017
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ALMOST 100 homes have been earmarked for demolition in a secret NSW government report into the building of a new motorway, it was reported on Friday.

The cost of acquiring homes and businesses along the proposed corridor of a new $9 billion motorway that will plough its way through southern Sydney could be almost $400 million.

Sydney is currently a construction zone. The Government is the process of building the West Connex and North Connex motorways, widening the M5, laying track for the CBD light rail, constructing stations for the North West Metro and demolishing buildings for a new underground rail line through the city.

An extension to the M1 Princes Motorway, which links Wollongong to Sydney, is the next cab off the rank. Currently the motorway, also known as the F6, ends south of the city with traffic pushed on to local roads.

The new 23km toll road would allow motorists to bypass some — but not all — of the currently traffic-choked suburban streets.

But despite a pre-existing corridor having been reserved for the new motorway for decades, a Government “business case”, seen by the ABC and Fairfax, says the new freeway will come at a high price.

Around 60 properties would have to be demolished for the extension at a cost of $100m in and around Rockdale, Brighton-Le-Sands, Kogarah, Taren Point, Miranda and Gymea.

A further $120m will likely have to be spent to acquire 30 homes in Sans Souci where the M1 will emerge from a tunnel and cross the Georges River.

A new bridge could be adjacent to the current Captain Cook Bridge, which was originally built in the 1960s to motorway standard for a future M1 but will now be bypassed.

A large new interchange could also be built in Arncliffe to link the M1 extension to the existing M5.

In the report, the road is dubbed “South Link”.

So far, the State Government has only committed $35m for a detailed examination of an initial stage at the city end of the road where construction could begin by 2019. A further two stages will take the road to Loftus on the city’s southern fringe.

However, a fourth stage that would see a motorway built through the Royal National Park has been cancelled. The analysis showed axing this chunk of road would save $5 billion — as well as avoiding tearing into the park — but it will leave a gap that will see motorists exit one freeway and drive through local roads with traffic lights before entering the new motorway.

The Government said detailed designs for the road were still taking place and would not confirm the number of properties that were needed to be acquired.

Homeowners close to the planned road have always enjoyed the use of a relatively narrow but extremely long piece of parkland that weaves its way between houses.

Many are unaware it is actually reserved land for the motorway. For more than half a century it’s been left vacant, an unexpected oasis of silence, where thousands of noisy cars should be hurtling past every hour.

In recent years however, workers have descended on the green patch surveying the land and extracting soil samples.

The Government is looking at burying the road as it travels through the Sans Souci peninsula.

However, even the road being in tunnel won’t save taxpayers forking out hundreds of millions of dollars for at least 90 homes to then be bulldozed.

Critics have said the Government should look at improving rail links to Wollongong. Currently trains take a circuitous route to NSW’s third city following the twists and turns of the coastline.

A half complete bridge across the Nepean River, south of Sydney, was supposed to carry some of that rail traffic on an alternative route called the Dombarton to Maldon rail link.

Completing the link, together with a new tunnel on the existing line, could cut journey times to just one hour between Wollongong and Sydney and cost as much as $10 billion less than a tolled motorway, stated an internal Government analysis revealed earlier this year.

Work halted on the bridge, which can still clearly be seen, in 1988.

However, in April Transport Minister Andrew Constance slammed the report as inaccurate.

“[This] is an email that has been cobbled together by some bureaucrat which is ill-informed of the cabinet process,” he said.

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