Wollondilly matters with Matthew Deeth: Picton Road Motorway Coalition

I was recently joined by Member for Wollondilly, Nathaniel Smith MP and the Lord Mayor of City of Wollongong, Gordon Bradbery AM with Illawarra Business Chamber to officially launch the Picton Road Motorway Coalition. The Coalition has come together to advocate for the complete upgrade of Picton Road to motorway standard, including the Wilton interchange.

In 2018, the NRMA completed research to examine the economic impact of road congestion on the economy. This research found that traffic on Picton Road is growing at seven to eight percent annually. The road will reach peak hour capacity in 2022 and daily capacity in 2025. It carries 25 percent heavy vehicle traffic, which is growing at 14 percent each year. By comparison, Appin Road had around half the number of crashes (2012-2016), carries half the daily traffic and has minimal growth in volumes.

The study could not identify a road similar to Picton Road elsewhere in NSW that carries 20,000 vehicles per day with a heavy vehicle proportion as high as Picton Road. The Hume Highway near Gundagai carries half the daily volume that Picton Road does with a similar heavy vehicle proportion but is of freeway standard with two lanes in each direction.

Wilton will see up to 15,000 new homes in the next 20 years and we want to deliver the infrastructure and services that our community deserves. It is vital that the infrastructure needs keep up with growth and that jobs are created locally. Council is working in collaboration with the State Government to deliver key infrastructure for Wilton, with the aim of ensuring that housing and infrastructure are aligned. If we are truly to envisage a 'great new town' at Wilton, we need to be planning with enough foresight in catalyst infrastructure projects that will bring jobs to Wilton and the wider region.

Picton Road has been a notorious site for motor vehicle crashes in the past. Proposed upgrades will make this stretch of road safer for thousands of motorists who use the road every day. I am encouraged to see widespread support for the call to upgrade Picton Road, particularly from the businesses that use it on a daily basis.

Picton Road is the main connection between the Illawarra and growth areas in the south west and west of Sydney, including the future Western Sydney Airport. If we are truly to realise the economic potential of 'game changing' investments like the airport we need to move away from thinking of regions in isolation or a 'city centric' model. It is clear that over decades we have not seen significant planning in critical links between key regions - that needs to change.

We need to start thinking of the economic potential that will be unlocked by better investing in key links between regions. I'm reminded of the economic arc that was first proposed for the North West of Sydney. Today we see this region booming due to the decades of investment and planning that has unlocked private investment. We have the same opportunity in South West Sydney to create a similar economic arc providing critical jobs if we choose to cease the opportunity. If we fail to do so, our community and industry will pay the ultimate price.

Matthew Deeth

Wollondilly Mayor