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Sydney's road network: plans and prospects

Sydney's road network: plans and prospects

Advice on legislation or legal policy issues contained in this paper is provided for use in parliamentary debate and for related parliamentary purposes. This paper is not professional legal opinion.
Briefing Paper No. 8/2015 by Andrew Haylen

Policy responses to roads congestion are contentious, multi-faceted and can target either supply or demand side improvements. For example, enabling a shift from private vehicles to public transport is a policy response aimed at reducing demand on the roads network. However, even with such a transport mode shift, forecasts from the Bureau of Transport Statistics indicate that private motor vehicle usage will continue to be the dominant transport option for the foreseeable future in Sydney.

The network and public transport policy assumptions that feed into these forecasts are of course the subject of political debate. It should be emphasised that, while this is fully acknowledged, it is beyond the scope of this paper to examine those assumptions and to present a critical commentary on them.

Based on Bureau of Transport Statistics forecasts, the NSW Coalition Government’s preferred response to congestion, initially outlined in the 2012 State Infrastructure Strategy, is targeted primarily toward supply-side road network improvements. Additional supply-side measures, outlined in the State Infrastructure Strategy Update, will be funded by the partial lease of NSW electricity networks.

From this supply-side perspective, restoring Sydney’s mobility presents “two seemingly simple, yet interlinked options”: making better use of existing road space (Chapter 6) and the construction of additional capacity (Chapter 7). This paper outlines, with respect to these two options, the recent capital programs and targeted road strategies implemented by the NSW Government to address congestion on the Sydney roads network.

As a preface to this discussion, this paper provides a brief overview of Sydney’s road network, as well as an outline of the administrative and funding arrangements related to NSW roads more generally.