Western Harbour Tunnel - a hidden consequence of WestConnex

One of the relatively unknown implications of WestConnex is the plan to build a 'Western Harbour Tunnel' from Rozelle, under the Balmain peninsula to link to the Gore Hill and Warringah Roads.


This tunnel will have serious implications for our community. It’s likely that the project would have a mid-point tunnelling site on the peninsula, as well as unfiltered exhaust stacks in Rozelle and Birchgrove.

 A tunnelling project of this size could lead to convoys of trucks and barges operating around the clock during construction to remove the hundreds of thousands of tons of soil.

Already, I’ve had dozens of calls from residents who are justifiably very concerned about the implications of the tunnel to our local area.

We need both the Liberal government and the Labor opposition to oppose this destructive project and instead commit to investing in world class public transport.

We saw how little regard the government has for preserving our city’s character and history when Haberfield, a heritage listed garden suburb, was decimated by WestConnex, with over 100 properties demolished. We must be vigilant in preventing the same thing happening at Birchgrove or elsewhere on the Peninsula.

The government allocated around $22 million in the last budget for planning and preparatory work. They are already doing preliminary test drilling work at a site next to Birchgrove Ferry Wharf.  So while this project still is at an early stage, we need to be proactive in pressing our message that Sydney needs world class public transport, not billions more spent on tollways.

The evidence is clear that increasing road capacity with tollways induces more traffic and car dependence. Exhaust emissions, especially when concentrated, have been proven to cause a variety of cancers, and fossil fuel consumption is acknowledged as a major contributor to greenhouse gases and climate change.

Yet the powerful roads lobby is pushing for more tollways, more cars and more congestion.

I held a public meeting in Balmain Town Hall  in order to better inform local people about the details we have on the tunnel so far, as well as to seek feedback from the local community. Over 300 people attended, all concerned about how this could affect our area.

If you weren't able to attend but would like to receive further information, please sign up for email updates on this issue and we'll keep you informed. 

You can also see the Powerpoint presentation from the meeting here.

Showing 11 reactions

  • mark lloyd
    commented 2017-07-18 18:27:59 +1000
    The cost is going to be $14 BN for 14 Km of tunnel! This is a scandal and a waste of public money. Can Parliament organise an investigation with the auditor or are there legal options open to stop this scandalous waste of money which will cause more pollution and more houses to be destroyed. There must be a better way, such as public transport! This must be stopped at all costs.
  • John Bartholomew
    commented 2017-02-21 11:22:08 +1100
    Hi Angela. Better start warning your friends on the North side now, as there will be little or no notice given by the NSW government or the shelf companies they hide behind of where tunnels will come out. WestConnex tactics have been to allocate massive funds to a brain fart now, and do the planning later, long after the contracts have been signed and the cash wasted. The route of WestConnex has been changed many times without warning since it was announced. And its not only the tunnel exits that your friends need to be concerned about; the “midpoint dive sites” will also be very destructive. These are the places where tunnelling equipment will be going into the ground so that tunnels can be dug from the middle in both directions, increasing the speed of digging them. They take up acres of space, which will mean forced acquisition of many homes, businesses and public parks with illegally inadequate (50-75% of real value) compensation by RMS, who are currently fighting court battles with many former homeowners they have robbed. And the people who live near the stolen homes and parks will not be spared; they will have to live with years of dusty and noisy work happening near them. Sleep deprivation has become a major problem for residents near WestConnex, along with lowered property values, pollution increases, lack of parking, and illegal dumping of toxic wastes on their property and in their lungs. Also there has been little to no enforcement of the consent conditions or building standards that apply to construction of WestConnex, which will likely be repeated in the north. Recently the roof of one of the homes undergoing demolition in St Peters blew off the house and onto a road because it was left unsecured in an area that often gets strong winds. That’s pretty standard and gets ignored by government agencies unless it kills somebody important.
  • Jenny Blain
    commented 2017-02-19 11:03:28 +1100
    Are the toll companies subsidising Westconnex? Congestion and gridlock are the inevitable outcome of such disastrous forward planning. There’s a very obvious alternative: public transport via a well-designed rail system.
  • Robert Moore
    commented 2017-02-17 18:07:46 +1100
    Kerry, it’s called “induced demand”. Many articles written about it. New road gives temporary relief but then more people decide to use it and before long congestion returns. Can’t build enough roads to cater for expected increase in Sydney’s population, better to look at other options, better public transport just one of many. But Westconnex is cleverly wedging us into more and more roads.
  • Duncan Marshall
    commented 2017-02-17 17:28:59 +1100
    Increasing capacity does generate or induce traffic and opens up for “latent demand”. The arterial roads may run a little faster, but at the exits, traffic jams. There have been many studies on the congestion effects of increased capacity, for example http://www.vtpi.org/gentraf.pdf . The reverse is also true – but the advocates of the oil, car, trucking, construction, and traffic industries do not want to know. The reverse is why London City reduced access roads to free up traffic. It was not short-term popular, but it was effective in reducing congestion and freeing essential traffic.
  • Angela Michaelis
    commented 2017-02-17 17:28:37 +1100
    It would be good to know where the tunnel is likely to emerge on the north shore. Then I can start alerting friends over the water. The problem with all these projects is that they get well underway before the public hears about them. Stay on this one Jamie!
  • Kerry Furlong
    commented 2017-02-17 17:01:00 +1100
    Does anyone else understand why this article specifically says that building more roads causes traffic to be more congested?
  • Kerry Furlong
    commented 2017-02-17 17:00:58 +1100
    Does anyone else understand why this article specifically says that building more roads causes traffic to be more congested?
  • Kerry Furlong
    commented 2017-02-17 17:00:54 +1100
    Does anyone else understand why this article specifically says that building more roads causes traffic to be more congested?
  • David Chuter
    commented 2017-02-17 16:56:37 +1100
    They’ve got plans for most of the north shore to start coming in via Rozelle onto westCONnex: https://www.facebook.com/NoWestconnex/photos/a.191836597625423.50529.176486265827123/1065938703548537/?type=3&theater
  • Gemma Pitcher
    published this page in News 2017-02-16 15:15:46 +1100

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