Council’s pursuit of a long-term solution to Springwood’s ever-increasing peak hour traffic jams reached the end of its road last week, after a majority of public submissions rejected the findings of a $90,000 link road study.
The study concluded a link road from the highway in Valley Heights at Peninsula Road to Hawkesbury Road at Lawson Road “may help alleviate traffic congestion experienced . . . during peak periods” but it came with an estimated construction cost of $26.4 million.
Two hundred and twenty-five people attended two public information sessions at Springwood Sports Club in late July and council mailed information ‘postcards’ to 7400 households, but it received only 61 submissions from residents.
Twenty one were against the link road outright, 20 were not convinced the link road was the solution to traffic congestion and just 20 supported the plan.
Councillors unanimously supported the the link road study in recent years, but voted on August 20 not to take any further action other than to present the study’s findings to the RMS and make representations to the state
government and local MPs with the aim of investigating “other options in the short term”.
Clr Brendan Luchetti called the growing Springwood traffic snarls an issue that “backdates everyone in this room” and couldn’t hide his frustration about “where this has ended”.
“Council has shown strong drive and great leadership on this issue,” Clr Luchetti said.
“Sadly that doesn’t seem to have been enough in the eyes of the people who actually have the power and the finances to affect change — and that’s not us, it’s Roads and Maritime Services (RMS).
“The ball has been put firmly in their court and yet they stand rooted to the baseline, not moving in either direction at this stage, not prepared to do something about it.”
The Ward 3 independent councillor went further, expressing disappointment about the lack of residents’ submissions made in favour of a link road solution.
“It was a disappointing turnout from the people, who based on that, cannot whinge to us about what are you guys doing about it . . . because council has done more than could be possibly expected.
“We now need to again — and this report will do it — bring this matter to the attention of the RMS and the local members and say do not ignore us.”
Clr Mick Fell said the need to do something about the traffic congestion has been “clearly demonstrated.
“The two RMS (managed) roads where they intersect (in Springwood) creates an unsafe situation,” he said.
“It’s a shame where it’s at and as far as I can see the problem is not going to go away, it will only get worse.”
Clr Mark Greenhill said completing the link road study was the “right thing to have done” and described the evening peak hour pinch spots along the Macquarie Road exit lane on the highway and the approaches to the two roundabouts on Hawkesbury Road as “not just an annoying situation, but frankly a very dangerous one”.
Clr Romola Hollywood suggested it may have been a case during the public consultation process that a “silent majority” supported a link road but didn’t lodge submissions.
“Unless it is about to be built, people don’t have the oomph — it’s really tricky,” Clr Hollywood said.
A report looking into potential short term solutions with key stakeholders will be presented to a council meeting by December.