M4 East Extension
The Hon. Dr PETER WONG: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Roads. Will the Minister acknowledge that the proposed extension of the M4, which will terminate several traffic lights before Anzac Bridge, will cause higher traffic volumes and massive congestion for commuters entering and exiting the motorway at this point? Given that the previous Minister for Roads, Carl Scully, opted for the cheaper 3.6 kilometre extension of the M4 and only lengthened this extension after the community voiced its concerns, will the Minister now reconsider the 6.6 kilometre extension of the M4 East as an alternative? Is the Minister aware that an overwhelming majority of commuters from the inner west travelling to and from the city prefer the long tunnel option, which will surface near Anzac Bridge? Can we expect the Minister to act upon the concerns raised by residents living in the inner western suburbs and respond to their concerns?
The Hon. Duncan Gay: How come you have a prepared answer to a question without notice?
The Hon. MICHAEL COSTA: I do not have a prepared answer, I am just prepared generally. I am advised that in July 2002 the former Minister for Roads announced that a possible 3.5 kilometre tunnel link would be investigated from the M4 at North Strathfield to the City West link and Parramatta Road at Haberfield, to relieve traffic congestion on this section of Parramatta Road and reduce travel times for freight, businesses and private vehicles. Consultants Connell Wagner examined a number of design options, including a proposal by community groups for a longer tunnel, with a portal in Lilyfield.
I am advised that on 16 December 2003 the former Minister unveiled three options for community comment. On 26 June 2004 he announced the preferred option for the M4 East, which, based on community submissions, lengthened the project by almost a kilometre, costing somewhere in the order of $300 million as part of a package of improvements. I am advised that an environmental impact statement is under preparation and is expected to be exhibited in the first half of this year. That process will go forward and there will be an opportunity for community consultation.