A Bullaburra woman has graffitied half the front of her home declaring her disgust with the NSW government over the construction of the Bullaburra bridge across the highway.
Anne (who asked that her surname be withheld) lives on the highway near the bridge and says she incurred damage to her home and car while the highway was being widened for the bridge. But her greatest concern is the manner in which the community consultation occurred over the bridge and the fact that disabled people, like herself, are unable to use it and that it “infringes public safety” for those in the community forced to walk across the highway.
“Anger and disgust are an understatement,” she said about her mood when she chose to use a red spray can to cover her home with messages about alleged “cover-up” and “corruption” in the state government.
Anne said numerous residents have disabilities. “Some have multiple sclerosis, lupus, a stroke, live with chronic pain, or are ageing, and it’s just too difficult to walk half a kilometre over a long bridge to get to the other side of the highway.”
Anne claims at the bridge’s opening in May 2015, a Roads and Maritime Services officer had admitted he couldn’t use the bridge because he was an amputee.
She would like to see the pedestrian lights re-installed at the site and said there were precedents for both at Lawson and Wentworth Falls stations, which had been better served by disability upgrades at stations and to cross the highway.
“The NSW government removed our one and only pedestrian crossing, there are five through Wentworth Falls and three at Lawson. They are choosing who lives and dies at Bullaburra.”
Anne said she was one of 657 people who signed a petition asking for further and thorough consultation – she and others wanted the pedestrian lights to be re-instated, an underpass built or a lift (“although they can break down”) – none of which happened.
“The government wanted a bridge so traffic could get through, they didn’t care about the community.
“People with a chronic disability live in fear of coming out about their limitations for fear of backlash.”
Anne has written a letter to every member of the Lower House. Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle has also been advocating, but she hopes the matter will be resolved by Premier Gladys Berejiklian.
“It’s against our Australian constitutional rights, laws (Chapter V, the states, section 109 and 117) our statute rights by an ‘Act of Parliament’, everybody in Bullaburra has been abused, it’s a massive cover-up … the consultation was a farce.
“The community, including people with disability, use the highway. Under public interest, public policy, I am stating it is an illegal contract prohibited by statute and contrary to public policy, contract injurious to public life … the NSW government has caused harm to the public in Bullaburra.”
Anne said ICAC had been informed in 2016 and she was keen for the public to know more about the urgent ICAC amendment bill that year involving the then Roads Minister Duncan Gay and former Premier Mike Baird.
A spokesman for Ms Berejiklian said “the Premier won’t be commenting” but a RMS spokeswoman said since 2013 it provided a confidential financial settlement to help address concerns of the resident.
“The government consulted with residents, the Bullaburra Township Committee, Bullaburra Progress Association and council about design options for the proposed bridge in early 2012. More than 85 submissions were received and, based on feedback, it was decided a pedestrian bridge with ramps and stairs was the best option ... the safest way to cross the highway and complies with mobility access standards.”