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Thursday, 12 March 2015

Feeling left out because I support better roads and better rail

I received a flyer in my post box today from the Sydney City Council that expressed unhappiness at the WestConnex development, the road the Liberal NSW government wants to build that includes a tunnel from Strathfield to the M5. As a resident of the city, the flyer implies, it seems to be incumbent upon me to favour rail infrastructure over road. But I am a big user of Sydney's roads. To visit my mother I need to go on the Warringah Freeway, through the Lane Cove Tunnel and onto the M2. But I am also a big supporter of more rail. I have regaled anyone who will tolerate me with my ideas for ring rail lines connecting distant parts of Sydney to one another.

I find myself on the fringes mainly because I agree with both sides. I agree that we need better roads (and I agree that we need more tunnels) but I also agree that we need more rail lines. My problem, it seems, is that I think we need both of these types of infrastructure to make Sydney a more livable city, because clearly at the moment it is broken.

I say it is broken because it clearly is. A couple of weeks ago a car accident happened on the Harbour Bridge at about 7am and the city was virtually gridlocked for three or four hours. One problem in one part of the system escalates into other problems in other parts of the system.

Yes we need more rail, but that doesn't mean we don't also need more roads. I think it is mean spirited of the City of Sydney, which is situated in the dead centre of the area of potential problems, to campaign against better roads. And residents of the inner west, furthermore, can count themselves in my bad books if they protest against the construction of the WestConnex. The road will of course improve their lives, but it is actually designed to improve the lives of people who live further out from the centre. People close to the centre need to get behind change. Infill, for example, is inevitable where you have good transport infrastructure, and arguing against it because you don't like property developers is just misguided. Property developers build the housing that we need to live in the 21st century; the houses of the inner west were mainly built in the 19th.

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