Starting in 2016, the NSW government has investigated options for the F6, a motorway that would go through the St George area north to south. The investigations have included testing ground conditions in the F6 corridor.
Until October, 2017, the government had not committed itself to the nature of the road. In 2016, I made enquiries with Roads and Maritime Services and the decision on whether the road is to be in a tunnel, on the surface or on a viaduct had not been made.
A surface or viaduct road along the planned corridor would be disastrous and destroy or compromise an enormous amount of important parklands. That's why I decided to campaign for the F6 to be put into a tunnel.
The NSW government has announced that the first stage, from the new M5 in Arncliffe to the President Avenue in Kogarah will be built in a tunnel. Construction will start in 2019. I was initially cautiously pleased because it looked like the Arncliffe to Kogarah section of the corridor will be preserved as green space. I am now no longer pleased because indicative proposals have been released which show that the Kogarah interchange (where the motorway connects to the surface roads) will lead to the destruction of a lot of green space. On further reflection and with the benefit of hindsight, I have come to the conclusion that an interchange at President Avenue was always going to be a problem because it is not where the main arterial roads are.
The F6 has been a proposed road for decades and drawn into street directories as such. My wife and I knew that when we bought our house in 1994, so why am I making a fuss? The reason is that densities in the St George area, like in most other areas of Sydney, have increased greatly and are continuing to increase. Therefore there are more people using the green spaces and playing fields. And so we are less able to afford their loss than we were in years gone by. Also, more people live in apartments than before, and they obviously have a greater need for access to parks than people in houses with backyards. Many of us who have houses have had our streetscapes and views compromised by greater densities and highrise buildings and it is fair enough that our parklands are preserved as some sort of compensation. It also important to consider the well-documented ecological significance of the wetlands in the F6 corridor.
Should we campaign for the F6 not be built at all? No. That would be likely to be futile. I have taken an interest in the WestConnex issue and the "Stop WestConnex" campaign has not succeeded. A "Stop the F6" campaign would be likely to be equally unsuccessful. We should campaign for the best possible realistic result. And that's a tunnel with well-designed interchanges. If it's done properly, this could be a benefit to St George residents as it would remove through traffic from the surface.
Also, I think that it is difficult to get good policy if the vast majority of the people who care just fall into opposing groups of hardliners. In this case of the F6, it would be undesirable if the only people who speak out on the F6 are people who oppose all motorways and people who want motorways but care little if at all about the impact on the areas it goes through. We need people who themselves get around by public transport or perhaps bicycle to say under what circumstances they are prepared to accept motorways even if they are not exactly fond of motorways. And we need people who do rely on their car and spend a lot of time in traffic jams to acknowledge that we need to build motorways in a way that causes minimal impact, even if it costs more.