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Sydney $1.8 billion airport motorway deemed ‘high priority’

Posted by: Paul Harris
06/08/2020
Industry News

Sydney $1.8 billion airport motorway deemed ‘high priority’

Sydney’s $1.8 billion M12 airport motorway has been deemed one of the nation’s highest priority projects by the federal government’s independent infrastructure adviser, piling pressure on the state and Commonwealth to deliver on the road in the next five years.

The 16-kilometre road linking the M7 Motorway and the Northern Road in Luddenham via the new Western Sydney Airport was elevated to a "high priority" by Infrastructure Australia on Tuesday, in its first ever mid-year update.

The NSW government has promised to begin construction on the motorway in 2022, pitching in $350 million, while the federal government is expected to pay $1.45 billion.

The report said western Sydney’s population was expected to increase by almost 1 million between 2016 and 2036, with the region’s existing road network unable to cope with that growth. The economic benefits of the M12 included travel-time savings and road safety benefits, the report added.

Construction of the motorway is due to be completed by 2025, according to the state government, about a year before the $5 billion airport at Badgerys Creek is scheduled to open.

The estimated cost of the four-lane motorway previously jumped more than $400 million due to an increase in land values around the site of the airport.

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Infrastructure Australia chief executive Romilly Madew said big builds across the country were integral to spurring the economy through the coronavirus crisis.

“The focus really is around expanding the pipeline, keeping the economy going, and helping to create jobs and investment,” Ms Madew said. “The industry was already under strain when it came to capacity and capability, so now we’ve had COVID and as we can see from what’s coming out of Victoria, that is having an impact on the execution and construction of these projects.”

Peter Colacino, chief of policy and research for the organisation, said it was drawing some positivity from New Zealand’s “reasonably quick return of economic activity” post-lockdown.

“We are considering both short-term impacts and the perspective of a longer-term return to trend growth,” he said.

The duplication of the freight train line to Port Botany and increasing capacity to Sydney’s rail network were two other projects added to the priority list.

“The priority list is a critical tool in recovery, as it directs investment to the infrastructure projects that will kick-start economic growth and have the greatest returns for all Australians,” Ms Madew said.

An environmental report released in October last year revealed about 74 hectares of native vegetation is expected to be dug up for the M12 motorway, including about 1.85 hectares of an existing bio-banking site within Western Sydney Parklands. The state's bio-banking scheme is intended to offset the loss of biodiversity, including threatened species.

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More than 40 properties are also expected to be fully or partially acquired, most being farms or orchards.

A Transport for NSW spokesman on Tuesday said the agency was reviewing the submissions received from the environmental impact statement, and will provide a response in coming months. Full story.

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