The Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) is now planning and building links to form a network of connected motorways in Sydney. In about ten years Sydney will have motorways connecting Sydney – north, south, east, west – providing fast and easy driving for longer trips around Sydney.
The individual network projects have all claimed benefits which include removing through-traffic from surface streets. Changes are needed to our road management system to capture these benefits. Road management and funding arrangements between local and state government are based on a legislative classification in the Roads Act 1993 and administrative categorisation as State, Regional and Local roads. Future-focused transport and planning strategies adopted for Sydney this year require a significant review of this approach to ensure the motorway network does not undermine the intentions of these strategies.
A Metropolis of Three Cities is the regional plan for Greater Sydney and it outlines innovative actions to make Sydney one of the most liveable cities in the world. It was adopted alongside Future Transport 2056 aiming to align land use, transport and infrastructure planning to re-shape Greater Sydney. The plans aim for different types of centres throughout Sydney. Local centres are peppered around Sydney and are important for day-to-day needs so we can easily walk or ride a short distance to shops and commercial services. Supermarkets serve bigger local centres – and of course people who need to drive those short distances will be able to as well. The vision for Local Centres is as a focal point of neighbourhoods with a focus on walking and cycling, a mix of land uses and spaces creating a vibrant character with places for people. Increased walkable access to Local Centres has been identified as potential measurement for delivery and monitoring the regional plan.
Under the current road management scheme, many roads running through these Local Centres are controlled by the state roads authority – the Roads and Maritime Services. Naturally the RMS works to keep car traffic moving with faster speeds, wide lanes and reduced stopping as a result of pedestrian crossings, traffic lights and parked cars moving in-out of parking spaces. These are important and necessary conditions in our motorways but will result in dangerous unpleasant streets in our Local Centres.
A Metropolis of Three Cities says “The management of local centres is best considered at a local level”. This needs to include management of the main streets through our Local Centres as well because local government knows local issues and access needs most intimately.
Sydney’s expanding motorway network aims to (and claims to) reduce traffic on roads serving Local Centres, including:
- Victoria Road serving Rozelle and Drummoyne
- Grand Parade serving Brighton le Sands
- Parramatta Rd serving Leichhardt
- Princes Hwy serving Rockdale and Wolli Creek
- King Street serving Newtown, and
- Military Rd serving Neutral Bay, Cremorne and Mosman
With the rollout of a connected motorway network we need to see the control of these roads handed to local government – with funding as well.
Future Transport 2056 is underpinned by the movement and place framework for streets and roads. Put simply, on a ‘movement’ corridor we want to keep moving, there’s no reason to stop or even slow down; and on a ‘place’ corridor we want to dawdle or spend time because it’s pleasant and interesting. The focus of Local Centres needs to shift from through movement by cars and trucks to local access by walking, cycling and deliveries to local shops and services.
Stage 1 of the F6 motorway extension between previously constructed tunnel stubs at Arncliffe and President Avenue in Kogarah is now on exhibition. The environmental impact statement (EIS) says “Along with future stages of the F6 Extension, the project would support the movement and place framework by changing the role of arterial roads such as The Grand Parade and the Princes Highway. The F6 Extension would allow these arterial roads to retain their purpose as movement corridors.” (Part 4.4.3).
Why would a motorway project intended for traffic bypassing Local Centres allow the movement purpose of The Grand Parade and Princes Hwy to be retained? The role of streets serving Local Centres needs to be re-orientated toward place corridors instead of retained as movement corridors. Increased walkable access to local centres – a potential measurement for delivering the regional plan – requires wider footpaths with trees and landscaping, pedestrian crossings where people need to cross, footpaths continued across intersections with side streets and more footpath space where people gather such as intersections and outside shops and cafes. Local government is the best level of government to consider and implement these needs and the road management scheme needs to changed to meet this.
With the construction and planning of a connected motorway network in Sydney and to make Sydney one of the world’s most liveable cities, the Greater Sydney Commission along with Local Government, the Government Architect, Transport for NSW and the Department of Planning and Environment needs to re-structure the road management system within the context of new strategies for our city.