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Sunday, 30 April 2006

I had a date to attend a baby shower in the outer western suburbs yesterday and prepared for it by purchasing visiting rights to the new M7 Westlink motorway, which has just been completed (ahead of schedule). The satellite photo of Sydney that hangs over my red vinyl couch doesn't show the motorway, alas, but it does show the roadworks that were gouged into the landscape in preparation for its construction. They weave out from the M2 westward, take a plunge to the south, cross the M4 and head further south into the suburban heartland.

It took me about as long to reach the entrance to the M4 through the choked Saturday streets as it did to negotiate the rest of the journey along the M4 and onto the M7. But my preparations began earlier when I telephoned the road operators, who directed me to the payment Web site, where I entered my details -- such as car registration, name, and credit card details (they don't take American Express: note) -- and clicked submit. I bought access for a whole day to this new toll-based extravaganza, and for a reasonable fee of $1.50 in registration charges. The toll itself depends on the distance travelled, but would only cost about $3.00 each way.

Travelling away from traffic-choked Strathfield on the M4 was a pleasure and at the toll plaza on this much older road I forked out the $2.20 payment that is requisite for passenger cars. The M4 on a Saturday is quite crowded but the brisk pace whips you along at about 90 kilometers per hour, which is the speed limit for most of its length. By the time the speed limit clicks up to 100 kms/hr you're almost at the turn-off.

And what a construction it is. Dubbed the Light Horse Interchange, the intersection of the two motorways is an engineering marvel: concrete columns and ribbons of shiny asphalt that twist and gybe across the landscape for hundreds of meters.

Being a lover of Jeffrey Smart's modernist snapshots, and having produced works of my own celebrating the harsh beauty of infrastructure, the view of cars gliding through the empyrean across broad acres of grass appeals greatly to me. The 70 km/hr right-hand swerve in my little, 1.3-litre Echo was highly pleasurable.

I reached the Richmond Road exit in double time, having passed two intrepid bicyclers on the way, and purred into the confines of Amsterdam Street twenty minutes ahead of schedule. I was the first guest to arrive. Damn those motorways: my baby shower host wasn't even out of the bathroom shower yet.

1 comment:

Ron said...

My wife and I have quite a few family members in the Sutherland Shire area whom we visit regularly. The M4/M7/M5 tollways have cut about 25" off our travelling time but the best part is not having to travel through Silverwater, Bankstown etc.

I'm not too impressed with the Light Horse 'sculptures'. A bit too vague and modernistic for my liking. They look like unfinished electrical outlets.