The Member for Shellharbour, Anna Watson MP, has today given a private member’s statement in the NSW Legislative Assembly condemning this Government for planning to exclude the residents of West Dapto from accessing the planned Albion Park Rail bypass.
On Tuesday, 19 September 2017, the Illawarra Mercury revealed Roads and Maritime Services have refused to confirm whether an interchange will be constructed at Yallah, to provide access to the Bypass to the Dapto community.
If the interchange is not constructed, residents in the Dapto area will be cut-off from the M1, and forced to continue using the Princes Highway. This journey would include an additional 16 intersections and six sets of traffic lights, and commuters would be forced to allow over 30% more time to travel the same distance than if the interchange was constructed.
This announcement is made all the more shocking, as less than two weeks ago (September 12, 2017), the Member for Kiama released a statement saying the Albion Park Rail bypass would “complete the missing link for a highway between Sydney and Bomaderry and provide easy access to Dapto”.
The promises made by the Member for Kiama under a fortnight ago, have since been abandoned by his own Government.
To explicitly mention the Albion Park Rail bypass providing easy access to the area of Dapto, publicly commit to this design, and back-flip just nine days later is nothing short of a betrayal to local residents.
Importantly, the recently completed Berry bypass, within the Kiama electorate, was designed for, and made accessible to, the entire Berry community.
The Member for Shellharbour has also recently requested a meeting with the Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, Melinda Pavey MP, to discuss the future of the Albion Park Rail bypass project.
Last week, Ms Watson received a response from Kevin Anderson MP, on the Minister’s behalf. In this letter, he stated “While Minister Pavey has noted your concerns and feedback, as you may appreciate the Minister has a very busy schedule and at this stage she is unable to meet with you”.
The projected costs for the Albion Park Rail bypass project were also recently revealed to have blown-out by an additional $100 million and the Government may be seeking to recover these costs by altering the design of the project.
Quotes Attributable to Anna Watson MP:
“Dapto is one of the fastest growing suburbs in New South Wales, and will be home to thousands of new residents in the coming decade. Only a road delivered by Gareth Ward could deliberately cut off thousands of hard working Illawarra residents from the region’s main arterial roads.
“This road is Gareth Ward’s pet project, but he’s proved time and time again he can’t get it right. The Albion Park Rail bypass is over budget, running late and now we don’t even know if it will service one of the key growth areas in the region.
“The Albion Park Rail bypass has been called ‘much-needed’, ‘long-awaited’ and ‘overdue’ by this Government for the last six years. However just as the construction date has finally appeared on the horizon, they decide it’s time to start cutting corners and asking our community to compromise.
“To overlook one of the fastest growing areas in New South Wales and to give zero consideration to the residents of West Dapto is not only short-sighted but cruel, considering how long this Bypass has been planned and publicised in our region.
“The residents of West Dapto deserve to receive the same benefits and opportunities from this project as the rest of our region.”
See: Letter from Kevin Anderson MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Regional Roads, Maritime and Transport on behalf of Melinda Pavey MP, Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, dated 13 September 2017.
21 September 2017