Mike Baird promises $300 million to untangle Sydney’s roads

Premier Mike Baird Photo: Janie Barrett ‘Congestion will cripple us’: Mike Baird. Photo: Brendan Esposito
Nanjing Night Net

Baird labelled a ‘coward’ over electricity privatisation

Roads would be widened and routes leading to busy intersections would take half as long to travel through under a $300 million election promise by the Baird government to untangle Sydney’s worst traffic snarls.

The improvements would take place over the next decade and would be funded by the proceeds of the government’s proposed partial lease of the electricity distribution network, or the “poles and wires”.

The investment was mooted last November when the government released more detail on how the electricity proceeds would be spent.

Labor has accused the government of “blackmail” by making the road improvements contingent on privatisation. The party is expected to reveal on Thursday how it would fund infrastructure, if elected.

Premier Mike Baird made the announcement on Wednesday near Homebush Bay Drive at Homebush, the seat where Strathfield Liberal MP Charles Casuscelli is facing an aggressive challenge by Labor candidate and former frontbencher MP Jodi McKay.

Mr Baird said if the government was re-elected, it would target so-called “pinch points” on 32 notoriously congested roads. They include Pennant Hills Road, Cumberland Highway, Parramatta Road, Old Windsor Road, The Kingsway, Campbelltown Road, and the Pacific Highway from North Sydney to Pymble.

“Sydney’s busiest roads can be gridlocked at any time of the day, any day of the week, costing our economy billions every year,” he said.

“If we don’t continue to act congestion will cripple our city.”

Mr Baird said the previous Labor government promised to deliver infrastructure but “never had funding to go alongside it. Well, we have that. We’ve got a bold vision to make a difference to this great city and state.”

OTHER TOP STORIESTeen’s eagle eye led to fugitives arrestsRed Cross scrambles to check blood suppliesDepression drug used without approval

A spokesman for Mr Baird said no homes would be acquired for the planned work.

Mr Baird said communities and councils would be consulted and where the changes were “supported and make sense, and we can do it, we will”.

Mr Baird flagged the relocation of on-street parking in some cases, if businesses agreed to the move.

Labor’s deputy leader Linda Burney said the move was part of Mr Baird’s “privatisation circus”.

“People do not like to be blackmailed. People do not like an axe hanging over their head where the only way they can get a new service or new infrastructure is to allow Mike Baird to privatise electricity,” she said.

Asked how Labor planned to pay for critical infrastructure, Ms Burney said a policy would be announced before the election. It later emerged that Labor leader Luke Foley is due to reveal this policy on Thursday morning.

“What we will be proposing will not depend on selling electricity assets. It will not depend on people having to give up what is theirs,” Ms Burney said.

Last week, former Labor premier Morris Iemma said governments should not shy away from unpopular decisions to privatise public assets, in a message that implied support for the government’s main re-election pitch.

Infrastructure NSW and Transport for NSW identified the road corridors to be improved.

The upgrades would be funded from the Rebuilding NSW fund, which the government says would pay for $20 billion worth of infrastructure projects once the electricity lease is complete.

The work would begin next financial year, and would include intersection improvements, road widening and lengthening or widening turn bays.

The government said it would lead to increases in average travel speeds by up to 15km/h on links approaching upgraded intersections.

This would achieve up to 50 per cent travel time savings on these approaches during peak periods and benefit adjacent intersections, it said.

Speaking about the Strathfield contest, Mr Baird predicted that Mr Casuscelli would hold the seat, saying he was “making a huge difference to his local community. He lives and breathes it”.

Mr Casuscelli said the road program was “great news for the people of Strathfield”.

“Behind us is one of the worst pinch points, not only in my electorate, but this part of Sydney,” he said.

“People go through that intersection … for all sorts of reasons, whether they are shoppers at the DFO [shopping centre] or they are taking their kids to recreational facilities.

“The pinch point program … will treat intersections like this one and allow people to get where they need to go sooner, and in a lot better frame of mind.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.