5 billion WestConnex motorway won’t create bottlenecks in Sydney, the NSW government has assured, as construction of the huge transport project was announced.
The nation’s biggest transport project got the green light on Thursday at a joint press conference between Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell and NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay.
They’ve promised that besides shaving 40 minutes off a typical trip from Parramatta in the west to Sydney Airport, the network of roads and tunnels will create 10,000 jobs and enable “urban revitalisation” along the Parramatta Road corridor.
The NSW premier batted away concerns that the project’s first stage – which involves building three-lane tunnels under Parramatta Road to connect the motorway to the two-lane City-West Link – would create bottlenecks.
He said most of the traffic that would use the motorway would have left the road by then.
“Sixty per cent of traffic that will use this road don’t want to go to the CBD,” Mr O’Farrell told reporters.
“Not everyone in Sydney works in the CBD, stop being Sydney-centric.
“We’re confident this project will deliver what people need.”
The NSW government is putting $1.8 billion toward the project, and the federal government will pitch in $1.5 billion over four years.
The bulk of the funding is expected to come from distance-based tolling, which will be capped at $7.35 in today’s dollars by the time the 33-kilometre network is complete in 2023.
The charge for the initial widened M4 section of the network is likely to be between $1.50 and $3.90.
Mr O’Farrell said an expert taskforce would advise the government on where smoke stacks should be located.
But Mr Gay was unable to say where homes would be demolished.
“There will be very few,” he told reporters.
“We’ve brought the best brains in the country and the world together to come up with something that (will) cause the minimum amount of stress to the community.”
Community consultation will begin next month and construction is set to start in early 2015.