A MESSAGE FROM JOHN BELLAMY AND THE SYDNEY LIGHT RAIL ACTION GROUP
Dear Andrew Constance, and Bruce Notely-Smith,
Thanks for your email, as included below.
A tremendous amount of destruction has been achieved in such a short space of time. You have desecrated our first war memorial, 31 Moreton Bay figs are to be destroyed, and many more to be partially destroyed. In all for stage 1 alone, 1277 trees are to be impacted of which 871 are significant or heritage listed. Under 760 trees are to be removed as per your tree report. You say that 81 Moreton Bay figs will be left standing in 2019 – but will they still be standing in 2024? All of the figs “pruned’ on the Cahill Expressway were dead within 5 years when the Eastern Distributor was completed in 2003. A large part of the story that you are not covering is that almost 10 hectares or 10 Allianz Stadiums worth of urban tree canopy is to be impacted by this project. The 900 trees along the route and the 900 trees elsewhere you are planting will not even be 5% of the tree canopy that is to be destroyed. The majority of trees on George St, Central, Chalmers St, Devonshire St, Anzac Parade, Alison Rd, Wansey Road and High Street are to be woodchipped.
You said “If we could have redesigned the route to avoid trees altogether, we would have, it just wasn’t possible.”One option to save all the trees would be to use modern electric buses, which require no tracks or wires, and run silently all day on a single charge. This option was offered to you in October, but you declined to meet me. These buses could be running today, with absolutely no disruption to the city. Gladys Berejiklian had proposed that the city would go with electric buses, when in opposition, but when she got into power, she ‘changed her mind’ and went with trams. Another option you were provided with was to run the tram overground to save the trees and also the gridlock to be caused by the project. You ignored this solution also.
You say, “Construction means impact and some inconvenience.” Small businesses have already gone bankrupt, and don’t get any compensation from the government. There have already been cyclist and motorist accidents on Anzac Parade now it has been reduced to 2 lanes. There will be permanent 24 hour clearways and Anzac Parade will be reduced to 2 lanes either way. At the moment the 3rd lane is used for left and right turns, bus stops and express buses in peak. Using only 2 lanes, cars waiting to turn left or right will reduce the road to 1 lane, and if there is a cyclist on the road at the same time, the traffic in the remaining lane will have to travel as slowly as the bike. This is already happening.
And then there’s the safety issue. Have you told all the mums out there that there are 79 intersections the tram has to travel through from Circular Quay to Kingsford? These will all be at the same level with no fencing, as shown in drawings and video ‘flythrough’ of the project. A Gold Coast tram takes 120 metres to stop when travelling at 60kph, so the tram will either be at risk of causing fatalities or really slow. The service is not frequent – it only runs every 8 minutes From Kingsford to Circular Quay and return , and only every 8 minutes from Randwick to Circular Quay return. Currently there are 180 buses per hour in peak which is an average of 3 buses per minute. The service will not be comfortable, as there are to be 330 people standing up on each tram out of every 450 and the tram goes on a ‘rollercoaster ride” through Moore Park in a tunnel under Anzac Parade, a bridge over the eastern distributor before travelling down the narrow Devonshire St. The tram will not be reliable either, as there will be no signal priority, and the network will grind to a halt any time there is an obstacle at any of the 79 intersections. The project is a complete dud, and will never be completed.
We request that you release the safety, traffic and full tree report before progressing with the project.
Our next light rail forum will be in June.
Your Email Below:
A tremendous amount has been achieved in a short time on the CBD and South East Light Rail and as major construction ramps up in the South East, we wanted to update you on recent milestones and what is upcoming. Major construction began on Alison Road in February, but the impact to date has been limited to some night works and a small permanent worksite east of Cowper Street. We are establishing new worksites on Alison Road and Wansey Road and we will start work on Anzac Parade (between High Street and Todman Avenue) from Saturday, 7 May.Residents and businesses in those areas will receive specific construction notifications detailing what that means for them,but anyone who wants to stay across the project’s progress can view those by clicking HERE
One impact of construction in the South East will be the loss of parking, whether it’s those in shopping precincts on Anzac Parade or the spots used by university students and residents on Wansey Road. We understand the absence of this parking will be felt, but to offset that we have a parking strategy developed with Randwick Council that we expect will begin delivering alternative spots from May in nearby streets, through methods like converting parallel kerbside parking to angled parking. We recently received approval from the Minister for Planning for the proposal to move our Randwick terminus from High Cross Park to High Street. Not only does this provide better access to the hospitals and town centre, it saves that park for continued public use. To a similar end, we have determined that the approved construction compound at High Cross Park also will not be required. Unfortunately, removing some trees to construct this complex project is unavoidable – we can’t just build a zig zag railway. If we could have redesigned the route to avoid trees altogether, we would have. It just wasn’t possible. There’s a lot of false information being shared about tree removal and it’s important to know we are not ‘clear-felling’ Anzac Parade. There are 112 beautiful Moreton Bay Figs along the light rail route and at least 81 of these majestic trees will still be standing when light rail is operating in 2019.
A big part of the story that’s not being told is the details of our extensive re-vegetation compensation. We will plant between two and eight new trees, all at least four metres tall, for every tree we have to remove. 900 of these will be planted along the route and at least another 900 in the surrounding areas. Our recently updated Tree Report highlights 23 London Plane trees being saved on Alison Road (northern side between Darley Road and Prince Street) that were previously listed for removal. Detailed design for that section of the route was modified to avoid utilities impacting those trees, which is a really pleasing outcome. While other changes mean three extra trees have now been listed for removal and another four will be relocated, the net reduction of 16 trees is welcomed. This is a direct result of Transport for NSW and ALTRAC Light Rail teams working tree-by-tree to minimise impacts.
We’ve also safely relocated 44 Kauri Pine trees from Alison Road to a nursery where they will be maintained until they can be replanted as close as possible to the light rail alignment. Another 15 trees, including 5 Moreton Bay Figs, will be relocated to Heffron Park in Maroubra. You can view the updated tree report, including a summary by clicking HERE.
We commit to writing to you regularly in the coming months to ensure you’re kept aware of what we are doing in your community as construction proceeds. If you know others who would like to receive this information, encourage them to register for updates by clicking HERE
We know that construction means impact and some inconvenience, but by 2019 that will be replaced by a frequent, comfortable and reliable light rail service connecting the South East with Surry Hills and the CBD like never before.
Thank you again for your interest in the project.
The Hon Andrew Constance MP
Minister for Transport & Infrastructure
CBD Coordinator General
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