NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes last week announced that planning approval has been granted for the WestConnex New M5 project, which will link to the upgraded King Georges Road Interchange on the existing M5 East Motorway at Beverly Hills and run via twin tunnels to St Peters.
In direct response to issues raised by the community, the Minister said a series of conditions have been set to provide new open public space; new cycling and pedestrian infrastructure; and strict environmental protections including:
- Provision of new open space south of Sydney Park and a new land bridge to connect the two green areas;
- New and upgraded cycling and pedestrian pathways connecting existing open spaces of Sydney Park, Simpson Park, Camdenville Park and St Peters interchange;
- Strict air quality limits for the tunnel and ventilation facilities;
- Establishing an Air Quality Community Consultative Committee with members of the community and local councils to help decide locations of monitoring stations;
- Protections for Green and Golden Bell Frogs; and
- A biodiversity offset strategy for the Cooks River Castlereagh Ironbark Forest.
According to the government, in addition to a reduction in congestion and an improvement in travel times, modelling has also shown the project will improve traffic safety and result in a reduction in car accidents.
The Minister said the project's strict conditions of approval require there to be a net increase in trees as a result of works. A detailed assessment report of trees affected by the construction must be prepared by RMS.
Key features of the New M5 include:
- Around nine kilometres of new motorway tunnels, line‑marked for two traffic lanes in each direction, and capable of accommodating up to three lanes in the future, if required;
- Widening and realigning the existing M5 East Motorway just east of King Georges Road;
- A new interchange at St Peters;
- Two new road bridges across Alexandra Canal;
- Enhanced and upgraded local streets near St Peters Interchange;
- Around 14 kilometres of new and upgraded shared, pedestrian and cycle paths, including new bridges across Alexandra Canal and Campbell Road, St Peters; and
- Tunnels that will be taller, wider and less steep than the existing M5 East resulting in a smoother ride for motorists, reducing emissions and improving air quality outcomes.
In September 2015, the CPB Contractors Dragados Samsung Joint Venture was selected as the preferred tenderer for the New M5.