Monday, 1 December 2014

WestConnex turns into NorthShoreConnex

Vague alignment diagram from SMH
It seems like only yesterday that Abbott and Baird were posing in front of a billboard of the WestConnex southern extension. Now both are facing the prospect of becoming one-term wonders like the Victorian government and Baird is trying to counter this by becoming even more obscure about his intentions. What the people don't know can't hurt him.

When he announced the "northern extension" of the WestConnex project as part of the justification for the sale of the urban electricity distribution networks throughout NSW computer-graphic generated videos were released with little arrows indicating vaguely where traffic would be dumped. Now the latest changes are announced by emails with no attempt to justify the new route with traffic analysis or to clarify where the exits will be. The object of the exercise is simply to obliterate the pesky little arrows that were shown in the video, before the election. Traffic must eventually come to the surface from the three-lane tunnels each way, we just won't know where before the election. The final Question Time of the Parliament before the election has been held so Baird is home free.

Gay confirmed that the little arrows at Petersham aimed at the oval would be eliminated so the new alignment does nothing to reduce congestion in Parramatta Road. He said that Stage 3 would still dump traffic into Parramatta Road in Camperdown west of the University of Sydney but Son of Bruce Almighty only knows if this will be west of Pyrmont Bridge Road, so the traffic heading inexorably to Pitt Street will be greater.

Who pays for all this?

Baird has refused twice to refute that he would privatise the whole of the state's electricity distribution network if he is elected Premier for the first time. His claims of being able to raise $20 billion from the sale of the "poles and wires" require the sale to occur immediately and for the money to remain in bank accounts for many years to accumulate interest. He has promised a spending spree on hospitals and other projects in western Sydney which could begin immediately. His figures do not add up.

Traffic from the North Shore will still clog the Glebe Island Bridge U-bend unless a mind-numbingly expensive road tunnel is built under Balmain and Sydney Harbour, leading inexorably to the Jewel in the Crown for the North Shore rump politicians: the even more mind-numbingly expensive road tunnel under Middle Harbour and the Spit.

Drivers from the North Shore currently can travel for free south along the Eastern Distributor so they will not be paying for any of this.

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