Ms MEGARRITY (Menai) [3.45 p.m.]: I have previously spoken in this House about the Bangor bypass. The Government is committed to start building the Bangor bypass before the end of this year to relieve traffic congestion in the Menai area. The last time I spoke on this matter I called on the Minister to release the draft environmental impact statement [EIS] as a matter of urgency, and include a north-south link road at the western end of the bypass. The Minister released the draft EIS, as I had requested, in late February for community consultation. The EIS included draft designs for the east-west leg of the bypass and also the north-south link, but my constituents rightly rejected many aspects of the Roads and Traffic Authority [RTA] draft design as unacceptable.
I immediately and repeatedly brought the concerns of the community to the attention of the Minister and I strongly urged him to initiate a review of particular aspects of the proposal. To his credit the Minister acknowledged the need for changes to the draft designs and instructed the RTA to review the proposal to examine issues raised by the community. The Minister assured me that this review process would be over and above the detailed consideration the RTA is required to give to submissions as part of the EIS process. He said that he would be in a position to advise the community of the outcomes of that review very soon after the close of the initial EIS consultation period.
With that in mind I met with the Minister earlier this week about the timeframe for the outcome of the review, and reiterated my community's bottom line. I again told the Minister that I believed the community's concerns were valid. I again told him about the hundreds of letters and concerns that my constituents have raised with me in a range of meetings and public forums. The concerns presented to me that I, in turn, presented to him must be addressed in the revised design. Today I would like to put on the record the submission I made to the Minister on behalf of my community. First, the road corridor has been reserved for many years and most residents were expecting the road to be constructed, but they were not prepared for the RTA's proposal to construct the road hard up against the northern edge of the road reservation.
Residents along the entire length would have high noise walls and a four-lane motorway running along their back fence. I have told the Minister that the bypass must be moved back close to the middle of the road reservation to reduce noise and visual impact. Second, communities along the route of the corridor have always had quick and convenient access to local schools and shops. It is totally unreasonable that communities should be cut off from one another, forcing a long drive around the bypass to get to basic local amenities. I have told the Minister that the bypass must maintain north-south connections at Shackel Road and Anzac Road, and that residents near Akuna Avenue should be entitled to a grade-separated interchange so their street can be accessed by the local community.
Third, the proposed design of the bypass would have left an ugly design and noisy scar around the bus-only bridge between Australia and Carter roads. I have told the Minister that the bypass must be designed in such a way as to minimise the visual and noise impact around the bridge. Fourth, the proposal to cut Old Illawarra Road in two, cutting it off to local traffic, would isolate the community of Barden Ridge. Currently there are five access points onto Old Illawarra Road, and to reduce that to one would have unreasonably increased the distance to shops and work and would become a fire hazard in the bushfire season. I have told the Minister that the north-south link must be designed to keep open as many of these access points as possible while getting trucks and through traffic off people's doorsteps.
As far as I am concerned, these matters are simply not negotiable for my constituents. The Minister has assured me that the review will be ready by the end of this month. In turn, I have asked him to ensure that the community is informed with public displays of the revised design. The bypass is a necessity—no member of my community would disagree with that—but the Roads and Traffic Authority's current design needs to address the community concerns. The Bangor bypass and the north-south link must be built as soon as possible, but these matters must be addressed. I thank the Minister for his co-operation and I call on him to produce a solution that fixes the problems I have raised today.
Mr FACE (Charlestown—Minister for Gaming and Racing, and Minister Assisting the Premier on Hunter Development) [3.50 p.m.]: I can understand the concerns raised by the honourable member for Menai. She would not be representing her electorate if she did not raise them. This is a forum in which honourable members have the right to do so, whether one is in government or in opposition. I understand the Minister is considering the early designs of the Roads and Traffic Authority and a review is taking place. A major bypass is going through my electorate at the moment and I understand there is scepticism on the part of some constituents and a degree of concern. The people who have lived along that corridor for 40-odd years knew it was coming, but they naturally have some misconceptions and some real concerns. Unfortunately, a lot of this is passed along the old bush telegraph and it remains to be seen, after the review, whether that is the case. Of course, access is always a matter of safety. A song many years ago referred to the English village of Bangor—we had a lovely day at Bangor. I imagine when this is finished that would be an appropriate song for the opening ceremony. I will refer the honourable member's speech to the Minister for Transport.