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Thursday, 1 March 2018
Page: 2574


Mr LEESER (Berowra) (12:09): Berowra is home to the worst road in Australia, Pennant Hills Road. Pennant Hills Road is choked with trucks, B-doubles—heavy traffic that makes driving dangerous and intimidating. Last year, Pennant Hills Road was Sydney's worst road for crashes. It seemed that almost every day of the week, every week of the year there was an accident on Pennant Hills Road. Pennant Hills Road is a major source of countless hours of delay for people unable to spend time with their families and loss of productivity for people unable to get to work. In traffic on a Friday afternoon, the 6½ kilometre journey from Hornsby to Pennant Hills can take over an hour. For too long, local residents have been coping with this blight on their landscape and the serious inconvenience to their everyday lives.

That's why I'm such a champion of NorthConnex. This outstanding project is a leader in every way, from design to delivery, and will be transformative for our electorate. The federal government is funding NorthConnex to the tune of $412.5 million. It's a great achievement of the Turnbull government that NorthConnex is being delivered on time and on budget, ready for completion at the end of 2019. With NorthConnex taking 5,000 trucks off Pennant Hills Road every day, locals will enjoy safer and more reliable traffic conditions. No doubt there'll also be a significant reduction in accidents as well as less noise and improved air quality for local residents and improved travel times for local residents between local destinations.

With NorthConnex coming online at the end of next year, New Line Road will inherit the mantle of the worst road in my electorate. New Line Road is the main road north from Pennant Hills Road to Cherrybrook and Dural, and it's a main service road for communities even further north: from Galston to Glenorie, Kenthurst, Annangrove, Arcadia, Maroota and Wisemans Ferry. Despite the level of traffic it takes, much of New Line Road is only a single lane each way.

Last month, I surveyed my electorate on the issues that mattered most to them. Above all, New Line Road stood out as one of the hottest topics in Berowra. More than 50 people specifically mentioned New Line Road, while dozens more complained about the traffic and poor level of road infrastructure across the electorate. New Line Road is totally inadequate for the level of traffic it carries. It's infamous locally for coming to a standstill at peak hour. The 18-kilometre trip from Arcadia to Pennant Hills can take over an hour in the morning. One accident or a slow truck completely blocks the road. Some of the comments in my January survey included:

The most important local issue is the widening of New Line Road from Castle Hill Road to Old Northern Road at Dural. I have been waiting 35 years for this to happen.

Widen New Line Road—just how long is it going to take?

Fix New Line Road—it's a disgrace.

Upgrade New Line Road to accommodate growing traffic issues.

That last comment really gets to the nub of the problem. Not only is New Line Road appalling as it is, but it will continue to get worse as the area develops and more residential projects are built to the north of my electorate and traffic builds. It will also be badly impacted as the new developments come online in north-west Sydney at Box Hill and Nelson and these residents use our local roads as rat runs to the north or to the city. It's time to stop failed policies of development without infrastructure first.

New Line Road is a state road, but, at the last federal election, I pledged to do what I could to see New Line Road widened. Immediately after coming to office, I wrote to my state colleagues requesting their support in approaching the then New South Wales minister for roads, Duncan Gay. I wrote to Minister Gay, reiterating the importance of widening the road. I also wrote to my colleague the minister for urban infrastructure to see what the federal government could do to fast-track a road widening. Minister Fletcher's advice was that the New South Wales government needed to prioritise the road first and put an application forward to the federal government so that funds could be considered. Next I wrote and sought a meeting with the new New South Wales minister for roads, Melinda Pavey, to encourage her to officially prioritise an upgrade of New Line Road. Unless the New South Wales government takes this critical step, we will not see this important change to our local area.

It's now clear to me that we need to show the New South Wales roads minister how important this project is to our local area. That's why I'm calling on local residents to join me in my campaign to widen New Line Road. I want to hear your stories, in emails and letters, and I will take those and present them to the New South Wales minister for roads, detailing some of the traffic problems and experiences that you have in the electorate, so that the New South Wales minister has a clear understanding of the importance of widening New Line Road and providing better infrastructure in our electorate. I promise that I will keep campaigning for the important widening of New Line Road.