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Wednesday, 8 June 1994
Page: 1548

Senator TIERNEY (7.13 p.m.) —I rise to bring to the attention of the Senate the next stage in the F3 freeway saga west of Newcastle. I am pleased to see Senator Collins here tonight because he and I jointly attended the opening of the last stage of the freeway. The Senate will recall that at the time we made some dire predictions about the effect of the completion of this freeway on local road programs nearby because it had not been taken through to the obvious point of joining with the New England Highway and finished instead eight kilometres short in a swamp just west of Minmi.  The freeway has had an absolutely disastrous effect on local traffic conditions. I know that personally because I have just moved to a new home in East Maitland and I use the end of the F3 freeway quite frequently. The government has created a disaster on Lenaghans Drive.

Senator Collins —Have you upgraded?

Senator TIERNEY —Yes, and it is a great pity that the road that I have to travel on has not been properly upgraded, either. Where that freeway joins a local road, we are very much still in the horse and buggy age. The RTA carried out an impact study in December 1993 and estimated that 12,000 vehicles per day would use this road—a 49 per cent rise in the volume of traffic along Lenaghans Drive. Residents near Lenaghans Drive opposed this plan at the time and appealed to the minister for an alternative route because of safety and environmental concerns. The residents really had cause for concern and since the opening of the F3 freeway and its link to Lenaghans Drive their worst fears have been realised.

  The RTA carried out a survey more recently and it proved that, since the opening of the expressway, traffic volumes were far higher than originally calculated during the EIS. Traffic along Lenaghans Drive has not increased by 49 per cent as forecast but by 100 per cent and is now at 15,316 vehicles per day. Heavy traffic was originally calculated to rise by 10 per cent and in February it had gone up by 20 per cent. Those figures were published in February this year, and I am comparing them with the September 1992 figure for heavy traffic volumes. Residents have reported being intimidated by heavy vehicles in this area, by the use of turning lanes as overtaking lanes and dangerous behaviour at roundabouts. The RTA noise survey shows that seven out of the 16 sites had far higher than predicted noise levels.

  Stage 3 of the F3 freeway extension was to commence in roughly 10 years time when, according to the surveys or the estimates of the department, traffic volumes would have reached 15,000 vehicles per day. Already it is higher than that, and the figure I quoted earlier is higher than 15,000 a day. So if we are up to the point where stage 3 is needed 10 years early, we ask the government: where are the plans to start stage 3?

  I have a news release here from the honourable Laurie Brereton which is talking about future road funding in New South Wales and across Australia, and I look in vain through the list for the proper completion of the F3 freeway or any feasibility study to provide the proper link from the end of the F3 to the New England Highway, and therefore to the Pacific Highway. I would urge the government to move quickly on this matter. We cannot afford to wait 10 years. The traffic volumes are there now, and growing, and there is considerable danger to people in the local area.

  There is so much traffic congestion around the area now because of local roads that the local authorities are going to spend many millions of dollars creating a new road so that the local traffic does not have to go anywhere near the highway. This would not have happened if there was proper planning at the start. For years we had a situation where traffic west of Toronto was in chaos when the F3 freeway ended there. The fact that it was going to do the same thing west of Minmi, 13 kilometres on, could have been foreseen 10 years ago. The government should have planned properly for this and it should have in place the proper completion of the F3 freeway, which would provide a road service of high class, dual carriageway running from Sydney through the New England Highway and on to the Pacific Highway, thereby completing proper traffic connections into northern New South Wales and to Brisbane.