Glebe and Forest Lodge residents attended a ‘Stop WestConnex’ meeting on Monday 24 October at Glebe Town Hall which was organised by the Coalition of Glebe Groups. Over 230 people heard addresses from Chris Standen, transport researcher from the University of Sydney, Dr Christine Cowie, medical specialist from University of NSW and Jan Wilson and Mark Openshaw, Glebe community advocates.

The meeting followed the information sessions held recently by WestCONnex about the planned M4-M5 Link. WestCONnex is planning road tunnels beneath Glebe and Forest Lodge linking up with the M4 at Annandale and the M5 at St Peters, a spaghetti junction road interchange at the Rozelle Goods Yards and traffic portals on Parramatta Rd somewhere in Camperdown around the footbridge. WestCONnex has indicated they are not yet committed to building the traffic portals.

The focus of the meeting was on these portals which according to WestCONnex’s own estimates will pour 20,000 extra vehicles a day into Broadway and City Rd doubling the present amount of traffic on these roads. Construction of the portals will be damaging for Glebe with the trees and possibly some houses in and around Arundel St under threat and the heritage listed wall running along Parramatta Rd also under threat. There will be the nightmare of traffic gridlock along Broadway and City Rd as well the undermining of the urban renewal that is now taking place in the southern CBD along Broadway and in Darling Harbour. The project will also impact on Sydney University, the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and the highly sensitive Camperdown Cyclotron Medical Facility which is located in the zone of the proposed WestCONnex route. If the portals are built it is unlikely that light rail could then be built along Parramatta Rd, taking away a viable public transport option for the suburbs along Parramatta Rd. There is also the folly of shunting traffic into the CBD and the inevitable question, where will this traffic go?

The meeting on Monday night heard that the portals can be stopped through community action and focused lobbying of our politicians. These strategies ultimately stopped the east west link in Melbourne. Relevantly the Strategic Business Case for WestCONnex does not support the portals being built. The main aims of WestCONnex is to relieve pressure on east/west major roads in Sydney (including Parramatta Rd), to improve access to the port and the airport and (once the Western Harbour Tunnel is built) to improve access between the north and south of Sydney. Building traffic portals on Parramatta Rd runs counter to all of these aims.

WestCONnex has indicated that their objective in building the portals is to take pressure off the Anzac Bridge for traffic using WestConnex and travelling between the west and north and east of Sydney. That pressure would in fact be reduced significantly once the Western Harbour Tunnel is built which the State Government say they are committed to do. Whatever traffic flow benefits might result from the portals, and these are uncertain, the cost and fallout from the portals would seem to far outweigh them. WestCONnex is due to release the Design Reference for the M4-M5 Link before the end of this year, which will indicate whether the portals will be built and if so where they will be located.

The Facebook page on the Stop WestConnex Glebe/Forest Lodge website sets out the community action that is being proposed to stop the portals.

A sign at the ‘Stop WestCONnex’meeting at Glebe Town Hall on Monday 24 October (image: Jan Wilson)
A sign at the ‘Stop WestCONnex’meeting at Glebe Town Hall on Monday 24 October (image: Jan Wilson)