Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Blacktown Council objects to Westlink M7 widening

Blacktown City Council has raised objections to a proposal to widen the Westlink M7, saying current plans overlook major issues with the existing 26km stretch of road.

The Council has made a detailed submission on the planned widening, objecting to the proposal for a range of reasons, identifying a number of serious shortfalls and problems that could, and should be addressed.

“The plans don’t adequately cater for current or expected increased traffic accessing the M7 from the rapidly growing suburbs in the North West such as Marsden Park, Schofields and Riverstone,” says Blacktown City Mayor, Tony Bleasdale OAM.

“Transport for NSW says road traffic along Richmond Road will almost double in the next five years to more than 65,000 vehicles every day.

“With so few exits and entrances on the M7, local feeder roads are already choked by cars and trucks getting off and on the Motorway. The situation will only get worse with the widening,” he said.

A group of companies led by toll road giant, Transurban, proposes to widen the motorway in exchange for the right to charge tolls through to 2053.

“At the time of construction, Council supported the M7 being a 6-lane motorway, albeit 2 lanes being dedicated to public transport, but this multi-million-dollar project should be much, much more than just widening a road. I also have great concerns with the plans over the lack of consultation with Councils or the community,” said Mayor Bleasdale.

“The M7 was a godsend for road users criss-crossing Western Sydney when it was constructed and adding lanes will ease congestion on the motorway, but what about congestion on the surrounding roads, what about public transport, what about reuniting communities, what about cycleways and what about flood evacuation – the plans do nothing about these?” the Mayor asked.

Council’s submission calls for more entrance and exit ramps to be constructed along the M7 and for the M7 widening to be extended to the M2 at Windsor Road.

The submission also calls for a massive upgrade of the local feeder road network including Bandon Road and the intersections at Richmond Road and Rooty Hill Road North, Great Western Highway at Rooty Hill Road South, and Wallgrove Road at Old Wallgrove Road.

“The planned widening of the M7 does nothing to reunite communities that were split by the original construction and does nothing to improve access to community facilities on one side of the motorway for residents and businesses on the other side of the M7,” Mayor Bleasdale said.

“There is a desperate need for more shared user pathways to improve pedestrian and cycle access across the motorway and to and from the M7 cycleway.”

The submission also highlights a condition of the original M7 development approval that the 15-metre median strip should be used for future public transport lanes. Under the plans the extra lanes will be used by cars and trucks with no provision for public transport facilities.

“Unfortunately, the latest plans dismiss the need for public transport facilities on the Motorway either now or in the future,” Mayor Bleasdale said.

He said the submission raises concerns over the failure of the plans to address issues of flood evacuation, noise mitigation, urban heat and integration with the Castlereagh motorway.

“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to widen the M7, increase access to the Motorway, re-join communities that have been split by the M7, fix the traffic chaos on surrounding main roads and intersections and cater for the massive residential and industrial development in the North West growth area.”

“Council is also extremely concerned by the lack of consultation with the government having been actively considering the proposal for some months but only providing the community and Councils 21 days to digest the details and prepare submissions, without giving any adequate briefings in advance.

“The operators of Westlink M7 are reaping massive and increasing tolls from the Motorway. They, along with the Government, have a huge responsibility to ensure that this project delivers far more benefits for Western Sydney than just a wider road,” said Mayor Bleasdale. 

Bicycle NSW has also lodged a strong submission on the planned widening of the M7, raising a number of objections.

Click to read the Blacktown City Council submission.

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