OUR ONGOING CAMPAIGN TO EASE THE CRUSH ON NARELLAN ROAD
No matter who wins on March 28, Campbelltown and Camden will get A SECOND ROAD ...but Labor will throw in an electric rail line too
Labor and Liberal leaders have both promised local voters they will start work on the long-awaited Spring Farm Link, to help take thousands of peak- hour cars off Narellan Road, reports Jeff McGill.
Premier Mike Baird told the Advertiser on Friday that, if re-elected at this month’s state election, he would start planning for a second road to Camden within the next 12 months.
But Labor went one major step further, promising $2 million funding to start scoping work on a Spring Farm Link — but also to extend the electric train line to Menangle Park.
This is seen as vital to the project, because most of the Camden and Wollondilly commuters using the new road would need to catch a train.
And unless an electrified station is provided for them at Menangle Park, or perhaps at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan, they will still create major traffic jams around Macarthur Square.
The Baird government has told an unhappy Campbelltown Council it has no plans to electrify the line, which mayor Paul Lake said is a recipe for future bottlenecks. ‘‘We need both — one can’t work without the other,’’ Cr Lake said.
Labor candidate Greg Warren agreed and said a rail electrification was vital to avoid new traffic snarls.
His plan involves extending Liz Kernohan Drive to the Hume Highway, with new north and south on/off ramps connecting it to Menangle Park, and a further link through to Appin, somewhere south of Campbelltown.
The study would also be tasked with investigating the extension of the electrified train network to Menangle Park, he said.
‘‘The sooner we get the experts working on the project the sooner we will see the asphalt flowing,’’ Mr Warren said.
“A Labor government will provide the $2 million in funding needed to get the road experts on the job and building the case for the construction of Spring Farm Link/Menangle Connection.’’
Labor’s treasury and roads spokesman Michael Daley toured the site last week with Mr Warren and said: ‘‘A Labor government will fund the preliminary works needed to assess the feasibility, scope and full cost.’’
Mr Baird made his own pledge on Friday at a special function at Wests Leagues Club organised by the Ingleburn Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
Mr Baird, backed by Campbelltown MP Bryan Doyle, told the Advertiser he had the Spring Farm Link well and truly on his radar.
‘‘We do understand the importance of that link.’’
When asked if planning work would begin in the next year, the Premier replied: ‘‘Absolutely’’.
‘‘We’re looking to continue what we’ve already done with Narellan Road, Camden Valley Way, and the South West Rail Link, and we are delivering.
‘‘We absolutely will have [a scoping study for the Spring Farm Link] under way within 12 months.’’
He later repeated that guarantee on stage, after being questioned by mayor Paul Lake.
But the refusal of the Baird government to consider extending the electric railway line south to service future commuters using the Spring Farm link has Campbelltown Council hopping mad, as it will just create new traffic jams.
This has already been highlighted by Advertiser readers, including local barrister Peter Doyle of Glen Alpine — brother of Bryan Doyle.
He wrote a letter last year insisting that dumping a large amount of traffic on Menangle Road would be disastrous. He suggested the Spring Farm link road should extend to Appin Road, south of Rosemeadow.
A similar option is being discussed in local planning circles — construction of part of the proposed Sydney Outer Orbital, or M9, a road that would connect the M5 to Appin. That means Wollongong-bound traffic that also clogs up Narellan Road would instead use the Spring Farm link, travel south on the highway and turn left to Appin, missing Campbelltown entirely.
Cr Lake — an independent — is lobbying both sides of politics, but is concerned the Liberals won’t include an electric line in their investigations.
Responding to a formal plea from Campbelltown Council, Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian recently replied: ‘‘The government does not have any current plans to electrify the line [to Menangle Park].’’
Fellow independent councillor Fred Borg said this seems absurd given Campbelltown has been declared a regional city.
‘‘We are a regional city ... with diesel trains,’’ Cr Borg said.
‘‘We have a prestigious harness racing facility in Menangle Park but people have to change and catch a diesel train to get there.’’
Cr Lake said due to a tragic fatal accident, Narellan Road heading east was closed for four hours from on Sunday, showing the vulnerability of local transport links.
‘‘If this happened on a workday there would have been chaos,’’ he said.