$17 billion WestConnex dud to worsen inner-west Sydney traffic congestion

By Leith van Onselen

I have noted repeatedly that one of the key reasons why Australia’s high population growth (immigration) is lowering the living standards of existing residents is because of the strain that it places on infrastructure, which inevitably leads to more congestion on roads, public transport, as well as more expensive housing.

Basic math (and commonsense) suggests that if you double the nation’s population, you need to at least double the stock of infrastructure to ensure that living standards are not eroded (other things equal).

In practice, however, the solution is not that simple. In already built-up cities like Sydney, which also happen to be the major magnet for new migrants (see next chart), the cost of retrofitting new infrastructure to accommodate greater population densities can become prohibitively expensive because of the need for land buy-backs, tunnelling, as well as disruptions to existing infrastructure.

In the case of Sydney, we have already witnessed these diseconomies of scale with the North West Rail Link, which is expected to cost an astounding $8.3 billion, as well as with the WestConnex road project – the $17 billion 33 kilometre motorway under construction that is more expensive per kilometre than the Chanel Tunnel.

Not only are these projects hideously expensive, but they often create major indigestion for Sydney residents during the construction phase. Moreover, in the case of WestConnex, existing free public roads like the state-owned M4 (that have already been paid off) will be tolled to help fund the project, raising costs for residents.

In fact, the cost of such projects is so great that the Grattan Institute estimated that “unprecedented infrastructure spending by states and territories” since the escalation of population growth from 2004 is “largely responsible for a $106 billion decline in their finances since 2006“, and that “after a threefold increase in capital spending over the last 10 years, states are paying 3 per cent more of their revenues in interest and depreciation”.

Last month, the hideous complexity and costs associated with the WestConnex road project have been further uncovered by The SMH, which reported that the private sector has steered clear from bidding to build the interchange at Rozelle in Sydney’s inner west because of the complexity.

And today, The SMH has revealed that the WestConnex project could actually worsen inner-west traffic congestion:

Commuters making the rat run through Sydney’s inner-west will face increasing congestion as a result of the WestConnex motorway, as new modelling reveals peak hour traffic will triple in volume on some local streets over the next five years.

The traffic study, commissioned by the Inner West council, predicts hundreds of additional cars will crawl through local streets and arterial roads in order to access the WestConnex motorway or avoid it, once construction is completed…

Inner West mayor Darcy Byrne said the study showed that “the opening of stage one of WestConnex will result in the mother of all rat runs through suburbs like Ashfield and Haberfield”.

“Thousands of Inner West residents will be forced to endure bumper-to-bumper traffic in their daily commute to work and when dropping their kids off to school,” he said…

Ken Welsh, the Inner West Council’s strategic transport planner, said the council’s study, which was produced by consulting firm Veitch Lister, was credible because it relied on traffic modelling used by the government’s road infrastructure agency, the Roads and Maritime Services…

In 2031, eight years after the project’s expected completion, some streets would still experience significant congestion in peak hour…

The RMS declined to comment directly on the study’s findings, but a spokesman said the agency’s modelling showed major roads would see significant decreases in traffic as a result of WestConnex.

“Daily heavy vehicle volumes on Parramatta Road and City West Link are forecast to drop by 40-50 per cent, and roads in the Inner West, such as Stanmore Road, Sydenham Road, Marrickville Road and King Street, are forecast to drop by 20-50 per cent,” he said.

$17 billion. A series of deep tunnels. These are the types of expensive and complicated infrastructure projects required to retrofit already built-out cities like Sydney to cater for rampant population growth. And the costs are borne by existing residents – either through higher taxes or expensive tolls.

Of course, anyone with half a brain knows what is driving the need for these complicated, costly projects: the federal government’s mass immigration program, which is primarily responsible for the 87,000 people per year projected increase in Sydney’s population to 6.4 million over the next 20-years, which would effectively add another Perth to the city’s population:

Blind Freddy can see that running a high immigration program requires massive investment and costs a lot, and that these costs are made worse by the diseconomies of scale discussed above. The huge infrastructure costs also force unpopular asset sales, increased debt borrowings and austerity – none of which is a desirable outcome.

Clearly, the most obvious and least cost policy solution to mitigate Sydney’s infrastructure woes is to significantly dial back Australia’s immigration program and forestall the need for costly new infrastructure projects in the first place. Because under current mass immigration settings, expensive solutions like WestConnex will be required over and over again as rapid population growth continually outstrips the supply of transport infrastructure. And existing residents will be forced to pay the cost, either through higher taxes or expensive tolls.

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Comments

  1. Terror Australis

    Saw an interesting youtube video recently.
    According to studies there is a consistent straight line relationship between “more road capacity” and “more cars”. It’s like a Cold War arms race that city planners can never win.

    • Georges Bataillet

      I can solve it over night. Without immigration cuts.

      But public transport isn’t popular with some.

      • A decent metro system will sort it out, just like a ‘proper’ city. Pity these things are so darn expensive to build in Straya!

      • Metro systems require high population densities to be viable. These densities don’t exist outside the city center in Sydney so they are having to construct huge apartment towers at every station along the Metro route. One problem has been solved by creating another.

      • The only long term solution to Sydney’s transport problems is to move the CBD to Parramatta. The natural geography of the existing CBD with large bodies of water on 3 sides and densely populated inner west on the other complicates all infrastructure construction making it necessarily expensive, piecemeal and is inevitably going to piss off a lot of residents. They thought they could get around the difficulties simply by putting it mostly underground but recent experience with both the Metro and Westconnex shows this isn’t the case.

        They’ve been talking about developing a new CBD out West for decades, yet all the money they spend is trying to bulldoze new routes into the existing one.

      • Even places with excellent public transport usually have very heavy traffic or punishing penalties/regulations to keep cars off the road.

      • Diogenes the CynicMEMBER

        Actually if there is a war in the Saudi part of the Middle East our petrol supply would shrink by what 90%? Job done in days as we have bugger all storage too. Australia produces about 10% of its oil and has hardly any refineries still open so we would be closed for business within a week. Can’t believe no one is planning for this as it is a huge vulnerability for our national security – we could obviously prioritise electric transport (trains/cars/trucks) with some tax/price signals and put the big trucks onto LPG, which we do have a lot of – well that is if we stop exporting it…but nah Straya’s different…

      • Could you do that without Chinese levels of pollution? And without Chinese levels of not respecting private property?

  2. Given the size of Australia, surely the obvious answer to this is to move work (and people) outside of the main cities to more regional areas.

    It seems to me that lots of people would be willing to make this change, due to better living conditions and overall cost of living, but the obvious problem is lack of jobs.

    I don’t have any real evidence for this, but if instead of spending $17b on a road, you offered it as tax cuts or rebates to companies setting up offices outside of Sydney, there would have to be some takers, surely.

    • The cost of country living is not necessarily less than city living

      Pluses
      Avocados are cheaper (especially when you grow them)
      Same for mangos
      And nanas
      And tomatoes
      (I’m biased and this is based on our weather obviously although if you’re in SydMel you can grow Bacon varietals of avo no probs so you just need a backyard and some sun, really)
      No traffic to speak of (I drive 25km to work, not one set of lights, free parking, or cycle and there’s 2 days of exercise budget on a 2hr15min 60km return ride with 1000m of climbing)
      Clean air = we’re both way healthier since moving from Mel 6 years ago. I think I’ve had two (minor) colds in 6 years.
      The list goes on

      But then:
      More driving (to anything)
      MUST have 2 cars if both of you work and or you have kids
      No town water (electricity for pump + pump replacement costs although free water)
      Insurance expensive (especially if you have some land)
      No public transport
      Travelling costs more if not near a big airport (intra city hops)
      Dr/GPs harder to get into and less bulk billing (generally)
      specialists, less choice
      less movies (no special treat gold class without a big drive)

      And hidden cost
      less places to eat out = enjoyment cost or more driving
      more driving for arts = drive 2.5 hrs to Bris and overnight for Wizard of Oz or ballet etc etc or concerts (no Pennywise concert in Byron Bay or Gold Coast = sadface)
      Generally lower paid jobs or less opportunity and less chance to move between employers (depending on skillset)

      No argument from me on the lifestyle – country living MILES ahead of city (this is entirely subjective)

      • Yes, the downsides definitely exist, but with a little more growth and momentum of people/work moving there I would expect the gap could be closed quite a bit over a short time with some financial incentives.

        High speed internet would be a minimum requirement, and although the NBN is stuffed up, a little priority for specific regional areas to support the move could also go a long way to remove a barrier for businesses, especially tech industries which could do a lot more remote/satellite office work.

      • what are you defining as ‘country’? like rural, isolated areas? if so you’d be right, but there’s no way in hell living in a town like dubbo is more expensive than living in sydney. none. my rent p/w (2 bedroom apt) is only $135. that immediately makes living herre cheaper than the city. everything else either costs the same or is cheaper. basically everything except some museums/galleries that are in cities are available here. food costs no more. spend less time in my car and end up driving less bc i dont have to leave it idling while i sit in traffic for 40 mins a day.

        when people say ‘move to the country’ i dont know how many of them mean move to some isolated rural place (why would anyone want to do that?) they mean move to a regional centre like tamworth, dubbo or wagga.

      • stagmal: I was personally thinking more of existing regional centres, but also the areas between and around them. There would have to be a lot of great liveable space in and around the Newcastle, Port Macquarie, Tamworth triangle, which although it’s rather a large area, smaller towns could be more developed with relatively close access to work.

        Other examples would be the Blue Mountains Bathurst to Penrith stretch, and the Wollongong to Ulladulla south coast.

        This is all NSW focussed of course.

    • bolstroodMEMBER

      @Hadron Collision
      You are quite right, living in the regions is terrible . Yu wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy.
      At least that’s the story we put about to keep the secret.

    • Decentralisation doesn’t work in Australia because of the effects of constitutional political economy.

      The question one should ask is not, “Why is land so expensive in and around Sydney (and indeed all the State and Territory capital cities)?”

      The questions one should ask are:

      a) “Why is an increasing proportion of Australia’s population squeezed into the State and Territory capital cities?”

      b) “Why are cities like Newcastle or Mackay or Townsville not vast metropolises?” and

      c) “Why does the proportion of the population in and around the capitals increase even as the population increases (contrary to the ‘critical mass’ hypothesis of city formation)?”

      The answer lies in Australia’s Westminster system of “elective dictatorship” combined with the phenomenon of “proximity bias”.

      Proximity bias is a cognitive bias that causes people to favour and reward those who are physically proximate. See, for example, “Out of sight, out of mind. People who work from home are less likely to be promoted”, The Economist, 13th October 2012. (http://www.economist.com/node/21564581)

      Under the Westminster system – with its generally supine Legislature – the Cabinet has vast discretion to disburse economic rents to the Ministers’ favourites. Combined with the proximity bias this creates a powerful centripetal force drawing people in towards the “Fountainhead of Rents”, the Cabinet. Proximity to Cabinet is a “positional good”.

      This phenomenon has been known to historians (but apparently not economists) for centuries. It is the reason that Courtiers had to remain at Court. Absence from Court was a death sentence.

      With the evolution of Absolute Monarchy into the Elective Dictatorship of the modern Westminster system, this effect has not gone away. Court has simply been replaced by Cabinet. Ministers reward those modern-day courtiers – the “primary rent-seekers” – who are physically proximate. Primary rent-seekers need to live within “lunching distance” of the Cabinet.

      The elevated incomes of the primary rent-seekers draws in a second circle of “secondary rent-seekers”, who in turn draw in further circles, the ripple of rents radiating outwards from the “fountainhead”.

      This realpolitik model of metropolitan rent-seeking undermines the naive (and transparently self-serving) theories of economists like Ed Glaeser who argue that cities come into being because of agglomeration efficiencies and should even be subsidised to promote that efficiency.

      To be sure, SOME cities will form due to agglomeration efficiencies. The paragon of this type of city is Silicon Valley where the planet’s highest concentration of intelligent individuals – sharing ideas – are literally re-designing the world we live in. And making fortune.

      But the mistake lies in generalising from the particular. Intuitively one might expect that where Executive government has wide discretion (as in the Westminster system) power and wealth would concentrate around that Executive, whereas in those countries with a more powerful Legislature (for example the US) agglomeration efficiencies would prevail.

      We can see the effect in the UK where far-and-away the largest per capita recipient of identifiable public spending (excluding social welfare and agriculture) is not Scotland or Northern Ireland as one might imagine, but London! (https://fullfact.org/news/are-english-paying-lavish-scottish-spending-promises/)

      Of course, the metropolitan apologists argue that Londoners deserve more being spent on them because (as everybody knows; just ask a Londoner) they are the clever, intelligent, hard working (shall we throw in “good looking” as well?) people who “create all the wealth”. Just look at their high incomes!!

      But this is a chicken-and-egg argument. Do Londoners deserve lavish spending because they generate wealth, or are they wealthy because the government lavishes spending on them??

      To give an example, as a child I lived about a mile from Lord’s Bridge Railway Station, the first stop outside Cambridge on the Cambridge-Oxford railway (the so-called “Varsity Line” or “Brain Line Railway”). The Varsity Line was spared the Beeching Axe in 1963 but you won’t find Lord’s Bridge Station on modern maps. That’s because in 1967 the government decreed that money should be dedicated instead to improving the speed of services into and out of the political capital. On 31st December 1967 the Varsity Line was closed, the infrastructure dismantled, and the track bed meticulously ploughed back into the farmland.

      Fifty years later the policy of concentrating traffic through London has necessitated the 18 billion GBP Crossrail Project to ease the congestion!

      But hey!! That 18 billion pounds increases the incomes of Londoners, thereby “proving” how productive they are!

      Isn’t economics wonderful??

      Meanwhile back in Australia, we have metropolitan rent-seeking at every level.

      At the State level, mineral royalties prop up Brisbane and Perth. Top class health and education facilities are concentrated in the capitals. Arts and sports funding is concentrated in the capitals. Lucrative public works contracts are handed out to Mates in the capitals.

      At the federal level, company tax on commodity exporters is disbursed – largely per capita – to the capital cities. Special imposts such as fuel excise act as a “tax on distance”, sucking money out of the regions (and even from the poorer outer suburbs which rely more on car transport) to be disbursed to the capitals.

      The policy of mandatory superannuation is now diverting over $30 billion a year into the hands of Sydney and Melbourne funds managers and their support industries. The acceptance of oligopolies in major industries further increases metropolitan incomes.

      And because of all those people crammed into the metropolis, trying to be within “lunching distance” of the Cabinet, we see projects like WestConnex which cost more to build that a green-fields city somewhere else!

      But hey!! That $17 billion increases the incomes of Sydneysiders, thereby “proving” how productive they are!

      Isn’t economics wonderful??

      • Stephen
        Thank you for that reference – it’s a ripper!!!!
        I’ve argued against this supposed one vote one value notion my whole life. This comes from having lived in isolated rural areas for a considerable period and seeing, over 60 years, how badly they’ve been screwed economically, along the lines described here, and, as a result, socially.
        Now that we’ve got half the population living in Melbourne Sydney Brisbane we have an intractable problem no matter what voting system we have. They’ll vote for whatever is necessary to keep themselves in the manner to which they’d like no matter the cost to the rest of the nation or future generations.

  3. A little bias from MB to run this story.

    Putting aside the immigration issue, the report was commissioned by the councils, their modeling showed an increase in hundreds of cars being the impact. This is minuscule in the grand scheme of things as it will remove ten’s of thousands of cars from main roads across the city when complete. For all we know those roads could handle that number of cars and that the rat runs are underutilised. If the street has 100 cars using it and increases to 400 it isn’t that big a deal, it is just 400% sounds bad.

    This is simply nimbyism from councils, build infrastructure but not near us….

    You could at least add the above as a proviso.

    • Will it though?
      I remember the Monash 1 BILLION (that’s 1 BILLION) expansion 1 lane each way but still The Congestion
      Why is that I wonder
      Like someone said above, paradoxically more roads = more cars

      Just bite the bullet and congestion charge, more trains/busses and for the love of lucifer encourage cycling. It’s madness that beach road is not a SE cycling superhighway.

    • Cars need a lot more space the faster that they move. At 30kmh stopping distance is 11m, at 100kmh it is 76m. Speed has roughly tripled but the space needed is 7 times. Looked at the other way if you increase the number of cars by 50%, traffic speeds may halve.

      Road traffic doesn’t scale well.

      • @ Dan

        your math is almost right. It seems that in the gap-to-speed increase math you overlooked the “clearing” of the traffic, meaning that 2x speed in ideal theoretical case is clearing 2x more cars (traffic) per second (of course less than that in real life)

        I drive all over Sydney for work and IMO the “green wave” mitigates traffic more efficiently than wider or faster roads. A good example is Victoria Rd on which on a good day I can do its full stretch of 22km in under 30min and stop on a red light 3-4 times max.
        Compare that to the Springvale Rd or Princes Hwy in Melbourne that have red light randomly, often out of sync and bucketload of those pedestrian crossings in the middle of the good stretch – all causing the caterpillar effect

  4. The toll roads are being built is BECAUSE they are expensive. It is a handout to construction companies and toll operators.

    Look at how hastily the government rejected the Wollongong rail line upgrade project, which was modelled by the productivity commission to offer massive economy of scale. Instead, the government mulled the construction of another motorway through the royal national park with $11 toll each way.

    It’s corruption and rent seeking, pure and simple.

    • +1. And as long as no tunnel gets built under Lucy’s all is well. Nothing under, above or beside is her motto.

    • Those construction companies aren’t even Australian owned anymore. Most of the tunneling work is done by John Holland (now owned by the Chinese central government) and Leighton/CIMIC/Hochtief/CPB (owned by Spanish multinational ACS). Given the ChAFTA free movement of labour provision, we should really be confirming whether jobs are being created for locals or to 457s, and how much public money is ending up overseas as profit. NSW government seems to pride itself on its lack of transparency, secrecy even, when it comes to tenders and contractual clauses.

  5. These absurd toll roads won’t have surge-based pricing or significant off-peak discounts, which means the suburban roads will constantly be at the “traffic jam limit” of usability. Those making local journeys at night, or early morning, or on a public holiday, or in the school holidays, or in summer, used to have a good run along Paramatta Road. Now all the suburban streets will be jammed as traffic won’t use the tollway for local journeys or off-peak journeys, so the inner west will be a permanent traffic jam. And it’s only going to get worse with the massive amount of apartment development going on in Alexandria, Roseberry, Marrickville, Summer Hill, Hurlstone Park the list goes one – the inner west is toast.

    The same will be true for Northern Beaches if they build Beach Connex – google the development plans for Ingleside if you want a taste of the development they are planning on the beaches. The Beach Connex won’t improve traffic, it will just allow more total amount of vehicles, but still the same journey times to the city, plus you’ll pay a toll, plus local Northern Beaches roads will become traffic jams.

    These road projects are for the benefit of developers, not residents.

  6. DarkMatterMEMBER

    We are building an incredibly complex and expensive city to achieve nothing except solve last centuries problems. Why do we need a giant city with roads networks to allow people to travel across the city on a daily basis? Are we building this for the imaginary jobs boom just around the corner? Is it so people can get to Ikea on the weekend and buy a chipboard cabinet?

    The sensible thing would be to leave Sydney at the same population and work on improving what is there, rather than turn it into more of a rat maze.

    • I would like nothing better than to cap Sydney’s population, but who is allowed to stay and who will be forced to live elsewhere? The migrant from India who arrived 5 years ago can stay, but the elderly couple born in Australia but living rurally for their entire working lives can’t retire to Sydney to be near specialist medical and aged care? The chinese toddler born to chines parents who got citizenship in 2015 can stay but the fourth generation anglo Australian child who was born in Melbourne is banned from ever living in Sydney? The elderly family reunion parents from Sri Lanka who planned to live with the adult kids in Sydney and help with care for the new grandchildren are told they can come to Australia but cannot live in Sydney?? The indigenous teenager from Kintore who somehow gets a scholarship to study in Sydney is not allowed to take it up?

      • Pretty easy, limit the permanent migration intake (nationally) to a more reasonable number (we currently have the highest in the world) and let the market sort out the rest. If the market fails, there are various social welfare initiatives and other schemes that can be judged on their merits. It ain’t perfect but it’s better than the current situation of unbridled population growth destroying our cities and environment.

      • @Gral: agree 100% that we must cut immigration, in fact I advocate reducing it to 15,000 humanitarian cases for next 5 years until infrastructure is fixed BUT even with ant lower figure, the people are still going to come to Sydney or Melbourne. You are just not going to get Indians or Chinese who have secured their magic PR moving to Broken Hill or Charleville.

  7. reusachtigeMEMBER

    So the title of this blog post could (and should) read “Inner Western Sydney road congestion will decrease by 20-50% thanks to WestConnex!” That’s great considering the city’s vibe will have also increased thanks to more quality imported human capital breeding out the local bogans. (Remember when bogans were called westies? I prefer that description as it helps understand where that scum come from)

  8. Clearly, the most obvious and least cost policy solution to mitigate Sydney’s infrastructure woes is to significantly dial back Australia’s immigration program and forestall the need for costly new infrastructure projects in the first place.

    If immigration became net 0 for the next 5 years, that will not fix today’s problem caused in yesteryear.
    Cannot stop infrastructure development as it is already, as-is, overloaded. Hence the “costly new infrastructure” is only addressing existing problems.
    Infrastructure projects became reactive-only probably since the broad introduction of neoliberalism in the 80’s. They need to become pro-active immediately. Otherwise even with net0 immigration the congestion would remain.

  9. This is a dumb question that I have been saving up for a while: at what point does the total private and public cost become less to choose a greenfield site on the mid WA coast with a viable scope for a deep water port (even out to sea if needed) that is below the cyclone belt but much closer to asia / rest of world and build a target 3 million population city from scratch with every planning / renewable energy issue that we are trying to retrofit here thought out in advance. The premise would be to give away parcels of land (some to develop, some to sell later when the whole thing takes off) to the first x hundred thousand businesses or individuals who are prepared to move out there and commit to building something and making a start??

    • It wouldn’t surprise me if the total costs for a greenfield city as you describe are already lower than expanding Sydney/Melbourne already. Of course it comes down to a chicken and egg problem, you only get the city if you have the jobs, but why put the jobs there if no people and infrastructure already in place?
      All that is truly required to achieve this is to create the jobs somehow, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roxby_Downs%2C_South_Australia. The Olympic dam mine led to the creation of a town to support it. This occurred because the jobs have to be at the minesite.
      The problem with a greenfield city is that it will always be cheaper and easier in the initial stages to go where the infrastructure already exists, so the early adoptors would bear an excessive cost, hence it makes no sense to start this process even if the end result is better. I guess this is yet another example of the tragedy of the commons.

    • Good idea.
      PS check out the SA model:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_South_Australia
      “A group in Britain led by Edward Gibbon Wakefield were looking to start a colony based on free settlement rather than convict labour. Wakefield suggested that instead of granting free land to settlers as had happened in other colonies, the land should be sold. The money from land purchases would be used solely to transport labourers to the colony free of charge, who were responsible and skilled workers rather than paupers and convicts. Land prices needed to be high enough so that workers who saved to buy land of their own remained in the workforce long enough to avoid a labour shortage.”

    • This is addressed in the earlier comment. It can’t (or won’t) happen under the existing system of government.

  10. ResearchtimeMEMBER

    This is so negative – we need this infrastructure… the argument is simply incoherent! Sydney needs this infrastructure, it has hundreds of years of usable life.

    And the comparison of the English tunnel is absurd. The two are not directly comparable at all!!! Have a look at the current cross link in London, and compare costs. Even then, each to their own.

    • LOL.

      Can’t put down fibre-optic cable, it’ll be obselete before it’s in the ground.
      Must build road tunnels, hundreds of years of usable life.

      • ResearchtimeMEMBER

        Yes, Kevin the Dud turned down a $800m wireless project… for your NBN!!! For something that would have been operational seven years ago, had two upgrades by now, and had far greater coverage, and probably greater speed!

        And that was obvious at the time!!!

      • Ah yes, the mythical $800m NBN.

        Amazing how none of the telcos manage to do that but your mate can.

      • ResearchtimeMEMBER

        Have a look at the submissions buddy… before you spout more stuff you simply don’t know anything about!!! Its a matter of public record, and the outcry when rejected!!

        The beige negativity gets annoying after a while.

    • This isn’t even a new 33km motorway – its widening an existing one and adding an interchange. The cost is absurd. $17 billion is just the start of it. There are projections its going to end up costing close to $50 billion once you include all the links and necessary road widenings around it. And it won’t even get you to the city. Or the airport. They can’t figure out how to do that bit because its such a tangle of critical road and rail lines, and they just keep building high rise among it to add to the chaos.

      • ResearchtimeMEMBER

        You are missing the point – who cares, the need was yesterday. Need more infrastructure, not less. A lot more… and it costs what it costs. The net economic cost for people living in that region, and usability would have a quick payback.

        the alternative disastrous.

      • You need more well thought out infrastructure, and an overarching strategic plan, not wasteful boondoggles. There is a huge opportunity cost to building this rubbish. $17 billion could have funded 10 light rail lines or an entire Metro network if built out west where it is needed, instead of trying to get more commuters into the city.

        Payback is going to be via 60 years of tolling, starting at $8.50 each way and rising at or above CPI to possibly be around $22 in today’s money by 2050. That’s a long term drag on the economy, not a boost.

      • ResearchtimeMEMBER

        Its not an either or proposition. The tolling cost is entirely irrelevant to the discussion. It is commuter usability, and social mobility. You don’t need to sell me on trains – I lived in London remember! You need both… roads are essential and always will be.

        In Switzerland, they put in a tunnel to by-pass a several hundred year old vineyard.

      • Saying “we need roads” is not the same as saying “lets spend $26 billion on some piece of crap that ends up nowhere and solves nothing”. Its not an ideological position, just this particular project is a gigantic boondoggle.

      • ResearchtimeMEMBER

        You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Come to Sydney and have a look… its had years of planning and strategy applied, and you, arbitrarily, say its a bit of political pork??? Without having any idea what it does??? Classic…

  11. Isn’t this solved easily by reducing company tax for regional jobs?

    Those corporations that have more than 80% of their workforce with a regional postcode have a company tax rate of 20% instead of 30%?

    This would encourage some companies to shift head office activities from the capital cities to the regions over time.