I have received considerable feedback in relation to the proposed changes to the road network in Haberfield, Ashfield and Leichhardt. My submission will focus primarily on the changes within Ashfield and Haberfield, suburbs in the Summer Hill electorate and draw together issues raised with my office by Ashfield and Haberfield residents.
The stated objective of these changes is to better manage the increased traffic in inner west suburbs around the tunnel portals at the eastern end of the M4 East WestConnex project.
While residents acknowledge the need to combat rat running and congestion around the inner west due to WestConnex, these proposals are clearly focused on moving people in and out of WestConnex tunnels rather than improving traffic and amenity for local communities.
Residents are concerned these changes will make it harder for residents to drive in and around their own suburbs. They will make Haberfield an island, with drivers unable to enter or exit, with potentially disastrous impacts on local businesses and community organisations.
Furthermore, both Haberfield and Ashfield residents note that their community does not begin or end at Parramatta Road. These proposals will further divide our suburbs and make it harder to access the services and communities residents depend on.
They move congestion on major thoroughfares to local streets, increasing rat-running and meaning it will take longer for locals to complete short journeys to the shops, health centres, schools and local facilities.
Unacceptably, they increase the risks to pedestrians, cyclists and local drivers, particularly around Ashfield Park and our wonderful local schools.
Residents are understandably angry and disappointed that these modifications to local roads weren’t considered as part of the initial WestConnex project. Similarly, residents are angry and disappointed to learn that the construction of the M4-M5 WestConnex Link will likely have little impact on traffic around the portals given that Haberfield and Parramatta Road will remain the last exit points for motorists intending to enter the Sydney CBD, requiring these changes to be made before the opening of the link.
Inner west residents warned the Government that their local streets would see increased traffic as motorists sought to avoid the inevitable traffic jams on the City West Link and Parramatta Road. In fact, some residents note that these issues were predicted in the Environmental Impact Statement for the M4 East, only to be ignored in the NSW Government’s conditions of approval.
Some residents allege that these proposals are actually designed to encourage more drivers to use the toll-roads which appear to have failed to meet expectations.
Broadly, residents welcomed proposals for better active transport links, however, are concerned that the proposals on the whole will make it more difficult for local residents to move in and around their own suburbs.
In particular, residents have raised the following concerns:
I note that many residents have asked that the feedback deadline be extended, given the complexity of the proposed changes, the cumulative impact of traffic changes and construction on Haberfield and Ashfield over the past few years, and the difficulties in communicating due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Residents also note that many elderly residents faced barriers accessing the webinars conducted by Transport for NSW, and that materials were difficult to access for the many residents of Haberfield and Ashfield who do not speak English as a first language.
I have written to the NSW Minister for Transport and Roads asking that he extend the deadline for feedback.
I also note that many residents are frustrated at the lack of traffic modelling and evidence that has been made publicly available in relation to this process.
I highlight the requests of the Haberfield Association:
- We ask for transparency and the release of the evidentiary basis for these proposals and all other possible options considered.
- We call for a suspension of all project planning until there is an agreed period of community discussion and consultation on all possible options with all traffic models and the data used to create them available to the entire community affected.
- We ask that the time for consultation on the current proposals be extended until the end of June, 2020.
Public transport on Parramatta Road
- These changes will also cut off Haberfield residents’ connections to Summer Hill and Ashfield stations, weakening our public transport network;
- Residents are frustrated at the Government’s failure to dedicate two lanes of traffic on Parramatta Road, promised as a condition of approval for the M4 East project;
- They note that public transport must be a part of the Government’s efforts to reduce congestion and improve safety on Parramatta Road and are disappointed at the lack of delivery.
406 Bus Route
- The 406 bus route is critically important for residents, particularly those travelling from Haberfield to Ashfield Station and then onto the city. Residents are concerned that these changes will mean the end of the 406 bus service;
- The bus currently turns right from Dalhousie Street onto Parramatta Road and the route will need to change dramatically due to the removal of the traffic lights on Dalhousie Road and Parramatta Road:
- Residents note that the 406 is used by many school students travelling to schools along the route; including schools in Ashfield;
- Residents seek urgent confirmation that the 406 bus service will continue and if so, what the new route will be.
Extension of right-hand turning lane to Liverpool Road
- Residents are split on this proposal, with some welcoming it as long overdue and others noting that the queue to turn right onto Liverpool Road from Parramatta Road (eastbound) can at times extend all the way to the WestConnex portal;
- While efforts to expand capacity here are welcome, residents are concerned the proposed extension of the turning lane will do little to manage congestion and reduce safety risks at this location.
Removal of the electronic variable signs on Dalhousie Street
- Residents welcome the removal of these signs and the associated equipment that was erected on footpaths and verges on Dalhousie Street, given their impact on access and visual amenity for local residents;
- The community’s strong opposition to constructing large electronic variable signs on Dalhousie Street were ignored, and residents are rightly furious that their opposition has been vindicated with the removal of these signs under this proposal.
- Residents argued that the variable signs were evidence that the WestConnex project would plague local streets with rat running and congestion; ironically, the rationale for removing the traffic lights at Dalhousie and Parramatta Road.
- These signs should never have been built in the first place. Constructing them in the first place was a huge waste of public money and a result of poor management by the NSW Government and WestConnex.
Removal of the traffic lights at Dalhousie and Parramatta Road:
Residents of Dalhousie Street expressed support for the removal of the traffic lights, noting that the changes promise to reduce congestion and traffic on their street, however, the majority of responses from other parts of Haberfield and Ashfield oppose the proposal.
The removal of these lights will purportedly make it safer for motorists travelling westbound on Parramatta Road. I note that there are 6 crashes a week recorded on Parramatta Road near the WestConnex portal, an astonishing number.
It is unacceptable that the Government failed to do the proper traffic engineering prior to the opening of the M4 East and these proposals are clearly designed to “retrofit” local streets to fix the congestion and safety issues caused by this lack of planning.
The removal of these lights means that the next right hand turn on Parramatta Road westbound is 1.6km further West at Great North Road. There is a significant stretch where residents are unable to turn right into their suburbs.
The Government argued that the M4 East would return Parramatta Road to residents, but these changes show that it will effectively remain a freeway through our suburbs.
Residents raise the following specific concerns:
- Ashfield residents noted it will make it substantially more difficult to access Haberfield and that these changes will force Ashfield residents to use Bland Street when accessing Haberfield, adding to what is an already congested street;
- The removal of the Dalhousie Street traffic lights will make it more difficult for parents dropping off and picking up kids at Haberfield Public School because Ashfield traffic will now be forced to use Liverpool Road and not Dalhousie/Orpington as is current practice;
- The removal of the Dalhousie Street traffic lights means that vehicles turning left will now have to wait for gaps in traffic, from both Parramatta Road (with visibility further diminished by a crest) and the WestConnex portals. This is risky and may encourage drivers to rat-run through the McDonalds carpark to find safer access to Parramatta Road from St Davids Road;
- These risks also increase for vehicles attempting to access Liverpool Road from Haberfield, who will be contending with the above limitations and then additionally moving quickly across three lanes of traffic;
- Some residents note that the traffic lights help to slow speeding drivers as they approach the tunnel entry and that removing them may remove this important traffic calming effect;
- Residents raise concern that the left hand turn from Parramatta Road to Dalhousie Street (Westbound) will be riskier due to the lack of traffic lights and the fact drivers will be moving faster than they would with traffic lights in operation;
- Residents of St Davids Road, O’Connor Road and Haberfield Road note that the traffic lights often provide the only gap in traffic allowing them to turn left from their street onto Parramatta Road and are concerned the removal of the traffic lights will make it harder to do so;
- Residents of Haberfield Road and Stanton Road note that vehicles from Liverpool Road are likely to rat run through their streets as a result of removing the right-hand turn into Dalhousie Street: drivers from his direction will use the new proposed U-turn bay to turn right at Parramatta Road and then run left through Haberfield and Stanton Streets to access Haberfield; residents also predict an unacceptable increase in rat running on Ramsay Street; Sloane Street, Lord Street and Hawthorne Parade;
- Strong concerns have been raised that rat running on O’Connor Rd, Haberfield Rd, Stanton Rd and Sloane St will also impede the ability of ambulances to move in and out of the Ambulance Superstation on Sloane Street;
- Sloane Street residents also note of the intersection of their street with Parramatta Road is already heavily congested and that many school students cross here, particularly on their way to Summer Hill station;
- Similarly, due to the removal of the right hand turn from Dalhousie onto Parramatta Road, forcing vehicles to use Liverpool Road to access Ashfield, there will likely be increased rat-running on Gower St, Pembroke St and Ormond St, Ashfield;
- Residents and business owners report that the Haberfield business district has already experienced significant hardship over the past few years and that this proposal will make it harder for customers to patronise local shops;
- Residents also note that access to the Ella Centre, St Davids Uniting Church, St Joan of Arc and the Mervyn Fletcher Community Centre will also be impacted to the detriment of the community.
Removal of left hand turn from Orpington Street to Parramatta Road
- This will force more cars to use Liverpool Road as they move between Ashfield and Haberfield; adding to what is an already congested major road;
- As noted previously, this is likely to increase rat running on local streets including Gower St, Pembroke St, Loftus St, Federal Avenue, Wallace St and Ormond St, Ashfield;
- The increased traffic from this proposal will add to pedestrian risks for residents using Ashfield Park, which is heavily utilised, particularly by children and the elderly.
Changes to pedestrian access across Parramatta Road
While residents are broadly supportive of a pedestrian bridge and improved pedestrian access across Parramatta Road, residents are concerned at the loss of the existing at-grade crossing and want further assurances about the protection of Ashfield Park:
- Residents overwhelmingly oppose the removal of the existing pedestrian crossing;
- Residents note the barriers posed by pedestrian bridges, particularly for people with mobility impairments, the elderly and parents with prams;
- Residents note that access is particularly pertinent given the number of schools, childcare centres and aged care facilities in the proximity of the proposed pedestrian bridge, as well as the regularly frequented Ashfield Bowling Club and McDonalds;
- Residents note that the existing crossing is regularly used by Haberfield residents walking to Summer Hill and Ashfield stations and that locating the bridge further west may delay their journey;
- Residents seek urgent clarification on the design and positioning of the proposed pedestrian bridge and whether the bridge will consist of ramps, lifts or stairs; they note that lift maintenance of pedestrian bridges are often poorly maintained and that if out of order, pedestrians may be encouraged to jaywalk across Parramatta Road;
- Residents raise concerns with the impacts of a pedestrian bridge on Ashfield Park, noting that open and green space in the inner west is at a premium.
Improvements to streets surrounding Ashfield Park are needed
Residents note that there will be increased traffic on the local streets surrounding Ashfield Park if these proposals are adopted and call for traffic calming measures around the park to protect pedestrians, particularly children and the elderly who regularly use the park.
Instigation of U-turn lane at Parramatta Road to access Dalhousie Street:
- The U-turn poses additional risks to pedestrians using the footpath on the northern side of Parramatta Road, including students from Haberfield Public School. If this option is retained, residents request that a safety barrier or fencing is constructed along the footpath to protect pedestrians;
- Residents are concerned that the heavy congestion on Parramatta Road at this location will mean it will be extremely difficult for cars to execute the turn and move across three lanes to then turn left onto Dalhousie Street; they note that this will require moving across three lanes of traffic, on a hill where visibility is reduced, and where the 1st and 2nd lanes of traffic already merge;
- There are concerns the u-turn will encourage rat running in Chandos St and Rogers Ave, which is home to a childcare centre, aged care facilities and a training centre for people with disability;
- Residents also raise concerns that congestion at the u-turn lane will bank down Parramatta Road westbound;
- The speed limit at this section of Parramatta Road raises the prospect of cars being rear-ended or worse as they slow to join the U-turn queue and residents seek clarification on what modelling the Department has done to ensure there is no increase in crashes if the proposal goes ahead.
Widening of Parramatta Road
- Residents raise concerns that the widening of Parramatta Road will further deteriorate the existing safety issues around the driveway at 98 Chandos Street, constructed as part of the M4 East.
Impacts on Bland Street:
- I note that residents report the following impacts on Bland Street. The proposals will funnel 100 extra vehicles onto Bland St every hour, passing Haberfield Public School, and Out of School Care entrances; Remove eight, or possibly more, residential parking spaces from Bland St in Haberfield; Create longer queues through Bland Street at Parramatta Road; and make travel between Haberfield and Ashfield even more difficult and congested, by re-directing extra cars and trucks to Bland St;
- Residents note Bland Street and Alt St are already heavily utilised and used as a rat run and that these proposals will unacceptably increase rat-running on these streets and Denman Street, near local schools including Haberfield Public School, De La Salle, Bethlehem College and St Vincents Primary School;
- The school zone at Haberfield Public School is already banked up with traffic and these proposals will unacceptably raise risks for students all along Bland Street;
- Turning right from Bland or Sloane streets is extremely difficult due to the phasing of the traffic lights; if vehicles are forced onto Bland Street, traffic lights will need to be re-phased to allow for more cars to turn right onto Parramatta Road;
- Residents note existing problems with traffic management around Haberfield Public School, including: Lack of parking around the school; Proximity of the pedestrian crossing to the corner of Bland and Denman, which leads to queuing across the intersection; Driver behaviour as parents attempt u-turns, double parking and other issues;
- Residents note that parking is already limited, particularly during morning drop off and pick up for school, and urge that parking be retained or replaced;
- Concerns have also been raised about cars queuing on Bland Street at Parramatta Road outside residential homes, increasing noise and air pollution;
- Residents are concerned that the proposals do not take into account additional traffic that will be likely caused by the Woolworths proposal for Parramatta Road and Bland Street, both during the period of construction and after;
- Residents also raise concerns about increased traffic on Chandos St and Denman Ave.
Removal of the right hand turn onto the City West Link from Waratah Street and right hand turn into Waratah Street
While some residents expressed cautious support for this proposal, citing it as a cause of rat running through Haberfield, residents raised concerns that:
- Residents are deeply concerned that they will need to travel to either Timbrell Park, Rodd Point, or Norton Street, Leichhardt, to access the City West Link eastbound;
- Residents note that these changes will substantially delay journeys from North Ashfield or Haberfield to North Sydney and substantially add to congestion in the Rodd Point community to the west and on Hawthorne Parade and Marion Street to the east as cars attempt to access the City West Link via Leichhardt. Residents note that this will also impact traffic trying to turn right onto Ramsay Street from Marine Henley Drive;
- Residents do not want to have to drive to Darley Road or the Balmain Road intersections with the City West Link to access the city;
- Local residents have expressed concerns about impacts on the UTS Haberfield Rowers Club, noting that it will now be even more difficult to access the club from their suburbs;
- Residents also raise issues with the short distance between Waratah Street and the tunnel portal, noting that motorists who wish to avoid the tunnel and remain on Dobroyd Parade must cross multiple lanes of traffic in a short period;
- Vehicles heading from Haberfield toward Croydon, Burwood or Strathfield will need to navigate fast moving traffic to access these districts from Ramsay Street or Parramatta Rd;
- Residents of Northcote Street note that the removal of the right hand turn from Waratah Street onto the City West Link may exacerbate rat-running on Northcote/Ash Lane caused by the inability to turn right onto the City West Link from Ramsay Street.
Removal of traffic lights at Waratah Street
Residents report that removing the lights at this intersection dramatically increases risks for motorists turning left onto the City West Link westward, being required to dodge fast moving traffic. Residents support a new pedestrian and cycling connection to Timbrell Park but request that the existing at-grade crossing also be retained. At minimum, residents request further evidence and modelling for the removal of these traffic lights.
Removal of the right hand turn onto City West Link from Timbrell Park
- Residents note this is a regular route for local traffic from Five Dock to Haberfield and Ashfield and are concerned the removal of the right hand turn will mean drivers are forced to use local streets in Haberfield to get to Parramatta Road and Ashfield; in short, this will increase rat running through Haberfield, including on Mortley Ave, Waratah St, Boomerang St; Minto Ave; Crane Ave; Hawthorne Parade; Chelmsford Rd and Loudon Ave;
- Any such increase of rat running would have a direct impact on congestion and the safety for students at Dobroyd Public School;
- Residents predict that the changes will result in long queues on Mortley Ave, forming a bottleneck and what will be one of the last entrance/exits to Haberfield;
- Some residents raised concerns that removing the right-hand turn from Timbrell Drive to City West Link will mean drivers from Five Dock will no longer be able to directly access the M4 East tunnel and now have to use local Haberfield streets including doing a u-turn on Mortley Ave or turning back through inner west suburbs via Norton Street. In short, it will be more difficult for those Haberfield residents who wish to use WestConnex to actually use the highway that has carved up their suburb.
Widening of Timbrell Drive
Residents are concerned the proposal to widen Timbrell Road will be negated by the fact that there will be an increase in vehicles from Haberfield who use the (already congested) roundabout to effectively u-turn back to the City West Link.
Pedestrian crossing over Dobroyd Pde
Residents note that Timbrell Park and Reg Coady Reserve are vitally important open space for Haberfield residents, with the former used regularly by Dobroyd Point Public School for excursions and sporting events, requiring them to cross the road.
- Residents note that this crossing is popular with cyclists and ask that the crossing here be designed to facilitate cyclists;
- Many note that the Bay Run is heavily utilised and that ensuring efficient and appropriate pedestrian and cycling links to the Bay Run is critical;
- Residents ask that the pedestrian bridge and ramp be designed so as to not impact Livvi’s Place playground in Timbrell Park;
- Residents of Dobroyd Parade have experienced significant disruption from WestConnex construction, the erection of a noise wall and changes to driveway access. They now raise concerns as to how the positioning of the proposed pedestrian bridge will impact them and urgently seek more information about the design and impacts on their properties;
- Residents argue that the existing at-grade pedestrian crossing and traffic lights in addition to the bridge is preferable.
Impacts on Timbrell Park
- Wary (and construction weary) residents are concerned that the proposal to remove “some vegetation” in Timbrell Park is shorthand for more significant loss of parkland; Transport for NSW should urgently clarify the extent of vegetation removal and any other impacts on parkland;
- Residents note that the plans do not propose changes to the footpath and cycling path adjacent to Iron Cove Creek on the Timbrell Park side; the path is narrow and in urgent need of widening and upgrade.
- A number of residents have noted that the proposed changes will lead to significantly more vehicles on Hawthorne Parade;
- Residents note the additional risks to pedestrians and cyclists who use the Greenway and may be impacted by increased traffic;
- Residents request speed bumps or other traffic calming devices be considered for Hawthorne Parade.
Parking on Mortley Avenue
Residents note that parking in the area is highly utilised and that removing parking will only put further pressure on local parking.
Brief notes on proposed Leichhardt changes
- Haberfield residents do not support the general push for them to access the City West Link via Darley Road, Leichhardt;
- They note that the removal of access to City West Link may funnel more traffic onto local streets in Haberfield and Leichhardt, making what is an already congested and slow journey to Darley Road even worse;
- Residents do not support the removal of the right hand turn onto the City West Link at this intersection;
- Residents oppose the removal of the pedestrian crossing on Darley Road, opposite Dan Murphys, particularly as many Haberfield residents walk to Dan Murphys or use the crossing to get to and from home from the light rail;
- Business owners and residents have raised concerns with the lack of parking as signalled in the proposals.
- Residents request that phasing of the traffic lights on Parramatta Road and Sloane Street be amended to give vehicles turning right from Sloane Street onto Parramatta Road longer to turn;
- Residents note that the other significant “bottleneck” of Parramatta and Crystal Street requires attention and adjustment;
- Likewise, residents express frustration that these changes do not address congestion on Frederick Street, which has the effect of forcing cars onto Bland Street and Alt Street.
These changes will make journeys quicker and easier for motorists using WestConnex, but at the expense of inner west residents and commuters.
It is critically important that the consultation period for the proposals be extended to allow everyone in the community time to process and respond to the complex changes.
Haberfield and Ashfield residents have lived through years of noise, dust and disruption.
While some of the proposals are likely to improve pedestrian and cycling connections in our suburbs, on balance, these proposals will make life even more difficult for inner west residents who have already suffered through so much.