M1 to M2 NorthConnex

NorthConnex

 

This re-announced proposal to connect the M1 (Sydney to Newcastle) to the M2 (into city via Lane Cove Tunnel) will by-pass busy Pennant Hills Rd. Whilst partly funded by Federal money, it has the potential to drain NSW of funds.

The history of long tunnels in the northern suburbs is replete with underbid contracts announced at politically convenient times: the sewer storage tunnel, the Chatswood to Parramatta rail line, the Lane Cove and M2 tunnels.  All these roughly doubled in price once construction was underway and roughly doubled again by completion.

The present stated cost is $ 2.7B for 9 kilometres of double three lane tunnels. So this could be closer to $12B by the time work is complete.

Whilst the tunnel is being built with 3 lanes each way, it appears that 2 of those lanes are ‘breakdown’ lanes and cannot be used for additional traffic (even in the future).

A further weakness of the proposal is the failure to include ramps to the Sydney side of the M2 motorway, which would require another couple of kilometres of branch tunnels, at an extra cost of the order $ 200 million.

There are unresolved issues on the location of exhaust stacks; the cost of ventilation tunnels to the stacks and particle filters (apparently omitted). Fire escape exits to the surface are to be provided at less than half kilometres spacing. The range of dangerous goods excluded from the tunnel needs expansion for long tunnels (two European long tunnels were closed for months after truck-loads of used tyres and butter caught fire).

As always, the customer pays! The occasional motorist may be willing to pay $ 6.11 toll, and has the alternative of the  surface Pennant Hills Road, with half the present volume of trucks. The Premier’s plan to force some trucks into the tunnels with a toll of $ 18.32 for trucks is problematic.

Finally, there  is no calculation of the Benefit /Cost  Ratio, which was so far below 1.0 that Infrastructure Australia refused to support Federal  funding. They have been over-ruled by politicians, and their senior staff changed. Barry O’Farrell has claimed twelve minutes time saved in each direction. In the present announcement, the number of truck trips benefiting has been “increased up” from 7,000 to10,000 truck trips per day, with a total capacity of 100,000 vehicles per day, the 10,000 trucks would pay $183,000 per day and 90,000 cars would  pay  $ 550,000 per day. Truckies could expect their small contribution to tunnel revenue to be increased if car usage is below forecast.

Assuming these revenues are achieved 365 days a year the annual revenue would be $267.5 million, which happens to be 10% of the intended construction costs.  The Lane Cove  Tunnel demonstrated that running expenditure will absorb most of the revenue, making interest free gifts of taxpayer funds necessary. The Roads Minister Mr. Gay needs to provide the correct calculations for the Benefit/Cost ratio.  By comparison, the RTA estimate of the B3 route Benefit/cost ratio was 4.1 !

JimMcCredie

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5 thoughts on “M1 to M2 NorthConnex

  1. The chosen route for this motorway tunnel is highly questionable. Traffic planners place too much focus on reducing travel times, it is the transformational ability of this infrastructure to remove traffic from local roads that is the greatest benefit to the community and economy. The suburban villages along the Pacific Highway and Pennant Hills road would be best served by connecting the M1 to the M2 at North Ryde, not West Pennant Hills. This will remove more traffic from the Pacific Hwy and support local small business and jobs. The amount of traffic that will travel west to West Pennant Hills, exit onto Pennant Hills road, then travel east again on the Northconnex tunnel is highly dubious.

    Residents that live along the Pacific Hwy should be asking why no community consultation events have taken place on the North Shore. All the focus has been placed on Pennant Hills road and traffic travelling west. We need to bring attention to the traffic travelling north from Sydney and demand a better outcome for residents of the North Shore.

    Make sure you provide feedback on this link before the end of May.

    http://northconnex.com.au/feedback.php

    • Take a look at the Equilibria Proposal as it solves the problem of the location of the smoke stack. The Equilibria Proposal extends the tunnel by approx 1km further north and makes available 100,000sqm of redundant M1 land for sustainable housing. The sales of the apartments totals $1.78B! There is enough money to provide a subsidy of $300M for the extension to the tunnel, a min of $172M for treasury and $400M profit for Lend Lease (who is building the tunnel). Definitely a better idea than building a tunnel with a road on top.

  2. Take a look at the Equilibria Proposal as it solves the problem of the location of the smoke stack. The Equilibria Proposal extends the tunnel by approx 1km further north and makes available 100,000sqm of redundant M1 land for sustainable housing within walking distance of Wahroonga Railway Station. The sales of the apartments totals $1.78B! There is enough money to provide a subsidy of $300M for the extension to the tunnel, a min of $172M for treasury and $400M profit for Lend Lease (who is building the tunnel). Definitely a better idea than building a tunnel with a road on top.

  3. Moving the stack 1km north will do little to reduce local air pollution as the RMS’ trick to reduce air pollution concentration is to dilute the air pollution with such massive quantities of (polluted) air taken from next to Pennant Hills Road that the extra pollution from the tunnel traffic is swamped out.
    Of course, all this air will have to exit either from the stack or from the tunnel portals (generally at night when local air pollution levels are at their lowest) and so a large area of Wahroonga, Warrawee, Hornsby, Asquith and Normanhurst, depending on the wind, will experience the pollution levels of living by a major road.

  4. A FLAT TUNNEL MEANS MINIMUM EMISSIONS FROM ALL VEHICLES!

    The M1 falls down hill north of Pacific Highway. A flat tunnel can exit onto the M1 close to the Hornsby industrial area, not immediate to the residential area in Wahroonga.

    The Equilibria Proposal is definitely the answer as it delivers all these benefits:

    • Less pollution in tunnel because all vehicles will be coasting along the flat road (no gradient). This means faster traffic flows – a less stressed tunnel – therefore less risk for Transurban.

    • Greater community acceptance of the NorthConnex tunnel due to less pollution and noise in the tunnel and local residential area.

    • The extension to the tunnel would be cost effective due to economies of scale from existing construction setup.

    • A likely improved EIS / more efficient planning approval. Note EIS has already been postponed with current proposal till July 2014.

    • NSW Government receives capital return on sale of redundant M1 land.

    • The pollution stack would be located adjacent to Hornsby industrial area, not immediate to Wahroonga residential area.

    • Spring Gully Creek riparian zone, currently adjacent to the M1 would be protected, not destroyed.

    • No Wahroonga resident would be forced out of their home.

    • Provision of additional 1900 dwellings for Sydney within walking distance of a train station.

    • Substantial financial benefits for the Federal Government, the NSW Government, Transurban and Lend Lease Bouygues.

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EquilibriaProposal

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