NSW Greens Statement on the opening of WestConnex M8
WestConnex is one of the most expensive transport infrastructure projects that Australia has ever built. The M8 section of tollroad cost more than $4.3b for a 9 km series of tunnels and the St Peters Interchange.
This polluting, private tollroad further locks people who commute in NSW into a highly tolled transport system that’s unsustainable and environmentally unsound.
The social and environmental damage of the M8 has been enormous with homes and green spaces bulldozed and communities broken up and dispersed.
Some of our inner city suburbs, including Newtown, St Peters and Alexandria have been now ringed and carved up by massive above ground, multi-lane roads which will become car parks, as traffic congestion increases and heat sinks, as temperatures rise.
The amount of traffic that will be now funnelled onto local streets and to vibrant King Street is alarming. Roads like Euston Road and Campbell Road have been widened to many lanes around the perimeter of the new St Peters Interchange. This means that traffic will spill out from the Interchange and back up above ground as it is funnelled into smaller residential streets and local roads in the surrounding suburbs.
The King St Gateway was supposed to protect the high street from increased traffic congestion but to date, nothing much has happened. It is unacceptable that local residents and businesses are not being provided with any clear details on this - they are understandably anxious about the impact that this tollroad and the increased congestion will have on their homes and businesses.
Despite this latest opening, there is still no direct connection to Mascot airport or the Port Botany which was the original justification for WestConnex.
The impact on air quality is a major concern for local residents as there will be four large pollution stacks in St Peters – with some in close proximity to St Peters Public school and near local residential apartments.
The impacts for those beyond the inner city, the tolls for the M8 are huge – and tolls are being reintroduced on the existing M5 East. These tolls are some of the highest in Sydney and have made Sydney one of the highest tolled cities in the world.
Jenny Leong MP, Member for Newtown
Abigail Boyd MLC, NSW Greens Transport Spokesperson
The M8 tunnel and the St Peters Interchange comprise Stage 2A of WestConnex built by CPB Dragados and Samsung C&T and scheduled to open in 2019.
This section of WestConnex was originally costed at $4.3 billion but costs overran significantly.
It is 9 kms in length and runs underground from Kingsgrove to the new St Peters Interchange.
It was originally called the New M5 Motorway but has been renamed the M8.
The opening of the M8 comes as tolls across the city, including the M2, Cross City Tunnel and Eastern Distributor, are set to increase again from July 1, 2020.
A Transurban-led consortium paid the NSW government $9.3 billion in 2019 for a majority stake in the 33-kilometre WestConnex motorway project and will have the toll concession on this tollroad until 2060.
The toll on this section will be $6.95 for cars and $20.86 for trucks and heavy vehicles.