Transport Blog 2 – The M5 Widening

In today’s NSW election ferris wheel (or is that hamster wheel), we had the inevitable motorway proposal.  The only bit of tension around this announcement was whether the Liberals would commission an M4 East Tollway, an M5 Duplication Tollway or a widened M5, with an extension to the toll.  Each of them no cost to the government, instead a cost to the motorist.  Though, it has been left unsaid whether the Liberals will continue the M5 Cashback, that scheme started by the Carr Government when it realised it couldn’t honour its 1995 election promise of scrapping the tolls completely.  As has been pointed out by Kristina Keneally, it’s $680 million for a $350 million road.  Either way, the taxpayers will probably pay for it.

Plus it’s a road widening that will be next to useless for the road users of the South West. I remember driving to Greystanes each day from the Lower Mountains in the late 1990s when the M4 was widened to three lanes. It was heavenly when the third lane was opened – the trip was cut by 20 minutes.  That isn’t the case anymore.  The daily carpark stretching out to the Wallgrove Rd exit in Eastern Creek is testament to the oft repeated fact that widening motorways do not work at managing traffic flows in the long term – instead they just attract more cars.

In addition, the chief problem with the M5 is not the section from Camden Valley Way to King George’s Rd.  While it has intermittent traffic delays along that length, what causes the snarls each morning is the 2 lane each way M5 East tunnel – another Labor Party brainwave.  While the new motorway lanes may increase speeds along the motorway slightly – and make it easier for people to go to Liverpool or Bankstown – there is still that giant bottle stopper continuing to sit there, taunting anyone wanting to go to the city or Port Botany.

This is lazy transport planning by a Liberal Party whose operatives would rarely even drive on the M5 in the morning or afternoon – after all, it’s been a while since there was a Liberal MP in a seat near the M5.  Mind you, there was also ample evidence that the Labor Government had stopped listening to its Macarthur region MPs a while ago.

That will all change soon – and they will discover within 1 year of the new motorway lane opening that they will clog up once more, leading to another expensive bandaid solution, rather than a long term helpful policy like an additional express train line from Campbelltown to the City.

The last part of my transport blog series will be completely different in tone – it will be a positive solution for the long term.  Stay tuned.

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