The 9 Km NorthConnex tunnel between the M2/Pennant Hills Road intersection and Pearce’s Corner is due for completion in early 2020. After years of anticipation we can soon look forward to having less congestion on Pennant Hills Road.
There are many anticipated project benefits but the four of greatest interest to us as a Pennant Hills community are:
- taking 5,000 trucks per day off Pennant Hills Road.
- return local streets to local communities,
- providing opportunities for improved public transport, better and more reliable trips
With the alignment of the NorthConnex tunnel running under Pennant Hills, Thornleigh and Normanhurst it is reasonable for these communities to expect to benefit in terms of relief from non-local traffic, opportunities for improved public transport, and better reliable trips on local roads.
The trust first raised the question of benefits realisation with NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) in 2016, only to find that there was no mention of “local streets” in all the NorthConnex project documentation and key local streets such as The Commenara Road and Yarrara Road, although designated ‘regional roads’ and part funded by RMS due to their network significance, were not included in the project’s extensive road and traffic studies.
The NSW Government Planning Approval for NorthConnex designated RMS, (in consultation with local Councils), to be responsible for Road Network Performance Reviews 12 months and 5 years out from the commencement of tunnel operations. RMS have made it clear that its responsibility with respect to road performance assessment is limited to State Roads only, and that local Councils are responsible for all local road considerations in this context.
At the Trust’s 2018 AGM, Steven Head, Hornsby Shire Council General Manager (Steven Head), advised that RMS were not then in a position to have detailed discussions with HSC on this issue.
Our concern is that a lack of action now will leave local communities ignored, with the NorthConnex promise of ‘returning local streets to local communities’ falling through the cracks of government.
There is hope however in that when the Trust met with Matt Kean in late March, we had a very fruitful discussion about the NorthConnex project returning local street to local communities. Matt complemented to the work of a past President of the Trust and the thoughtfulness, details and the analysis of his written submission to his office. Matt agreed to hold the relevant authorities accountable to their commitment to returning the streets to the local community.
Now the question is: what does “returning local streets to local communities” really mean? It could mean traffic management features to reduce the use of local “rat runs” to bypass Pennant Hills Road. It could mean improving access to Pennant Hill shops for “east side” residents through more favourable traffic light sequencing. It could mean improving public transport and pedestrian access to Pennant Hills station in conjunction with changed traffic flows after Sydney Metro opens in June this year.
Most importantly it should mean the traffic experts are informed by what the local community wants. So, we’re throwing the question to our readers:
- What does” return local streets to local communities” mean to us?
- What does “providing opportunities for improved public transport,
better and more reliable trips” mean to you ?
Let’s hear your views and together we can make Pennant Hills a better place!