The NSW Government has declared the first section of the ‘WestConnex New M4’ ready and open to traffic, but the organisation of Western Sydney councils WSROC is doubtful motorists will get their money’s worth when the toll charges begin on 15 August.
The opening gambit
For the first time, drivers can now enjoy four lanes in each direction with new access points and smoother road surfaces on the widened section of the New M4, between Parramatta and Homebush, the government said.
Minister for WestConnex Stuart Ayres thanked people for their patience during construction of this first section of WestConnex that, he said, will deliver faster, safer and more reliable trips for Western Sydney motorists.
“In just over two years, we’ve delivered the first stage of this once-in-a-generation game changing infrastructure which Western Sydney has been crying out for,” Mr Ayres said.
“Crews are continuing to work around the clock and all lanes are now open.
“The first section of the New M4 project has been a massive undertaking with 4.3 million people hours worked, more than 40,000 cubic metres of concrete poured and 50,000 tonnes of asphalt laid.
“We’ve made great progress but there’s plenty more to do with our ‘New M4’ tunnels now more than halfway complete, over one kilometre of the ‘New M5’ tunnels excavated and the M4-M5 Link scheduled to start next year.
“This project is driving an economic boom across Western Sydney with the first stage of the New M4 alone supporting 2,000 direct and indirect jobs throughout construction and more than 1,600 businesses signing contracts exceeding $1.6 billion.”
A distance-based toll of between $1.77 and $4.56 will be implemented on the widened section of the M4 between Parramatta and Homebush from 15 August 2017.
“Tell us what you think about the M4 toll”: WSROC
WSROC will monitor the performance of the widened M4 over the coming month to ensure commuters feel they will get value for money from the $4.56 toll.
WSROC president Cr Bali said: “Both the Australian and NSW Governments have promised Western Sydney commuters significant time savings from WestConnex, and as paying customers we expect to see results.
“Premier Berejiklian has promised that the benefits of the widened M4 will outweigh the cost of using it. I sincerely hope so, but will be relying on user feedback to determine whether this is the case,” he said.
“I encourage all M4 users to share their experience of the widened upgrade with WSROC by sending their complaints or compliments to M4toll@wsroc.com.au.
“Alternatively, commuters can tweet #M4toll or post to the M4toll Facebook page,” he said.
“Driver feedback will contribute significantly to WSROC’s assessment of the M4 to see if actual travel time savings are achieved. If not, WSROC will be making strong representations to the NSW Government,” said Cr Bali.
“We understand the necessity of tolls for funding public infrastructure, but do not believe road users should pay before they benefit. WSROC believes that east-bound travel will not be improved at all until the next section of the M4 East is opened in 2019, and therefore city-bound road users should not be paying any tolls until then.
“$4.56 is a significant amount, particularly when you compound this with other tolls paid by long distance commuters across the motorway network,” he said.