Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Cancerous growth on High Street

Nelune Cancer Centre, Avoca Street

The Health Minister Jillian Skinner and the member for Coogee Bruce Notley-Smith announced on 4 December 2013 that plans for the Nelune Comprehensive Cancer Centre at Prince of Wales Hospital would be on public exhibition until December 13. The exhibition period closed the day after the first disclosure of the plans for the tram rails through Randwick.

Construction site at High Street/Avoca Street corner
The plans are for the demolition of the present oncology unit, which is replaced by a building with facades right up to the street boundaries of of the block at High Street. There can never ever be a bus stop in High Street between Avoca Street and the University of NSW. The first stage, a deep excavation for underground levels up to the Avoca/High Street corner of the block, is under construction.

The red markings on the road may have something to do with the tram rails. Devonshire Street is being closed for road works on the weekends but Randwick City Council is clearly treated with more respect than the undemanding Sydney City Council.

High Street frontage of Prince of Wales Hospital
In fact, there will never ever be a bus stop in High Street to the east of Wansey Road. The revised EIS relocates the tram stop at the south end of Wansey Road into the middle of High Street diverting the single westbound lane into the grounds of the University of NSW. For Coogee/Parramatta Road bus services there will be a new bus stop way to the south in Perouse Road (according to the dubious access diagrams prepared by Aecom) and the next stop will be god knows where west of Wansey Road - the bus stops will be further apart than tram stops!

But the disadvantage for Coogee residents pales to insignificance beside the disadvantages for Eastern Suburbs commuters. Bus services from Bondi Junction use Clara Street to access High Street from Belmore Road since there is no right turn from Avoca Street.

Bus turning into Clara Street

In order to physically turn into Clara Street bus drivers must swing into the centre lane after leaving the bus stop - car drivers are required to give way. They must "encroach on the light rail alignment" making the passengers sitting ducks to be run down by cattle cars with priority signalling. The redeeming feature of the design is that children injured on buses run down by trams will not have to wait for ambulances to thread their way, god knows how, through lanes of grid-locked traffic: the stretchers can be wheeled directly into the Children's Emergency Unit at Prince of Wales. Through traffic in the single eastbound lane of High Street will be blocked from travelling in parallel with tram movements not only by buses turning right into Avoca Street but also by buses turning left into Clara Street.

The Bondi Junction to Rockdale bus routes (numbers 400 and 410) are arguably the most important regional bus routes in the Sydney metropolitan area. They connect the Eastern Suburbs with Randwick, Prince of Wales Hospital, University of NSW, Maroubra Junction, Mascot and the Airport terminals and thence to the southern rail line.

The Eastern Suburbs are the natural catchment area for Prince of Wales Hospital - with the closure of Prince Henry Hospital the only other teaching hospital is St Vincents and this was threatened with closure. The revised EIS chortles: "The relocation of the UNSW High Street stop into High Street would provide ... more convenient access to the medical and hospital precinct to the east". The government is obliterating the bus stops used by services from the Eastern Suburbs to give priority to a radial transport system from the Manly ferry terminal. It should be noted that the submission of Randwick City Council to the exhibited EIS suggested that if the stop was relocated it might withdraw its opposition to the High Cross Park terminal.

The Knutters of the Round Table

The 13 December 2012 brochure listed the Members of the Sydney Light Rail Round Table. Among them were:
  • University of NSW
  • University of Sydney
  • Randwick City Council
  • City of Sydney
  • Transport for NSW
  • NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure
  • NSW Treasury
  • Infrastructure NSW
  • Member for Coogee, Bruce Notley-Smith, MP
I wrote to the University of Sydney, my alma mater, asking if they could provide more information than was provided in the brochure - no response. When the Member for Sydney, my MP, was inducted to the Round Table I wrote to his office. His website reported that the meetings were "closed" - members were sworn to secrecy. There was not even any information on the individuals that took part. It was at these secret meetings in 2012 that the routes of the tram rails were decided.

It should be noted that Transport for NSW that prepared the exhibited EIS and the revised EIS and NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure that has the statutory obligation to assess the EIS (or should that be EISs) were both on these Round Tables.

Revised down

The exhibited EIS cropped the indicative plan of the High Cross Park terminus to conceal that Belmore Road, the sine qua non arterial between Eastern Australia north of Kirribilli and Coogee, would be reduced to a single lane culminating inexorably as a right turn lane. This would not be revealed until the Preferred Infrastructure Report was released months after the exhibition period had closed. The diagrams included in the Technical Papers by Booz & Company deceptively showed two southbound lanes in Belmore Road.

Members of the Round Table included the "honorable" Bruce Notley-Smith and the Randwick City Council and they would have been fully aware that the residents of Coogee and Randwick were being deliberately deceived to deny them any opportunity to raise objections. They are clearly contemptuous of the people who elected them to office and pay them enormous salaries and pensions for life.

There is one startling difference in the revised plan and the diagrams that preceded it: the switch points in front of the oncology department have been deleted. The buildings shown in the revised plan are of the old, to be demolished, oncology department, so the revised plan was prepared before the EIS was exhibited and was deliberately repressed. But why delete the switch points? Booz & Company insisted that only one rail into High Cross Park would be in use at any one time but Parsons Brinckerhoff suggested that trams would alternate between platforms. If the revised plan is approved by the assessors Parsons Brinckerhoff will have triumphed.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption

Barry O'Farrell told the ICAC on Tuesday: "PPPs have been a fact of life since they were introduced by Nick Greiner,  like it or not". I was still surprised when I learned when writing this post that he had followed the career path of Nick Greiner and will resign as Premier after irrefutable evidence emerged that he had lied to an ICAC inquiry.

Misleading the ICAC about a $3000 bottle of Grange red wine is pitiful but it is revealing about the way the state Liberal Party has gone about business from the days of Robin Askin. The Light Rail Project was conceived in meetings where the participants were sworn to secrecy; the underlying assumptions behind the decisions made were never revealed; the public has no information on the individuals who were involved in the decision making; when the project is announced to the public they are told that no change is possible.

It has gotten a whole lot worse than it was under Askin with a deliberately contradictory Environmental Impact Statement that with-held information on matters of public safety and made public servants from across the public service complicit in approving the project without there not being proper disclosure of the impacts on traffic and on the public bus services.

News Corp archive - O'Farrell succession
Just when you thought it could not get any worse, the picture above lifted from News Corp was tagged farrel-succession.

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