Wollondilly Council calls for immediate release of Picton Bypass studies

Picture: File image
Picture: File image

Wollondilly Council is set to call on the NSW transport minister Andrew Constance to request the immediate release of Transport for NSW's traffic studies into the Picton bypass.

It has been more than two years since planning works started for the long-awaited bypass however, these plans have never been released.

Wollondilly Deputy mayor Michael Banasik raised a notice of motion at a recent council meeting asking the council to write to Mr Constance requesting to see the study.

He said he was pleased that the motion received unanimous support.

"We have waited a long time for any word on the bypass," he said.

"On the Transport for NSW website it said that the study was supposed to be released in late 2019 and it is now late 2020.

"A council staff member spoke with Transport for NSW and they said it would be released later this month but it wasn't updated when I checked recently."

The council is expected to lodge a formal GIPAA application with Transport for NSW if the information is not released before Christmas 2020.

Cr Banasik also requested the council raise its concerns about the planned four month closure of Victoria Bridge in 2021.

He said the council would conduct a petition in coming weeks to call on the NSW Government to commit to building the Picton Bypass to address traffic concerns, population growth and improving emergency services access and evacuation routes during natural disasters.

"It will be a petition similar to our one about the koala fencing on Appin Road - and that one was pretty successful," Cr Banasik said.

"We know the havoc that happens when Victoria Bridge is closed and the traffic it creates.

"I just hope Transport for NSW can come up with a solution.

"We already knew that they were going to close the bridge for four months, and that was supposed to happen during the summer but they opted not to do it then because of the bushfire danger which is good.

"But hopefully the work can be split up into different periods or something like that."

Earlier this year the bridge was closed after a stolen vehicle was crashed into it causing 'significant damage'.

At the time Cr Banasik said "traffic isn't as bad as it would be under normal circumstances" due to the school holidays and people working from home due to Covid-19.

Picture: Wollondilly Council Facebook page

Picture: Wollondilly Council Facebook page

However Cr Banasik said the safety improvements occurring on the bridge next year would cause even more disruption for motorists as more people may return to office work.

"People are starting to go back to work and things are starting to go back to 'normal'," he said.

"But the shire is also growing as we know."

Cr Banasik told the Advertiser earlier this month that the community deserved to know what the Picton Bypass studies entailed so that plans could be made.

"We need them to release the document because there might be some really good ideas in there - we might know if they are going to fund it," he said.

"Depending on what the study says we can start to plan for the future and try and alleviate some of the traffic issues in Picton - we need to know if the bypass is possible because if not, we need to find a plan B."

Earlier this year Wollondilly Council called on the state government to improve bushfire evacuation routes in the shire after the Green Wattle Creek blaze.

Councillor Matthew Deeth said evacuation during the peak of the bushfire was a major issue for the residents of Wollondilly.

"There is a downfall in the planning process where the impact of extra homes being built in our towns has not been considered in relation to the capacity of evacuation routes," he said.

"Overall, there is not enough investment in evacuation routes. The problem would have been avoided if a Picton bypass had been in place.

"We can't go to into the next fire season without a commitment from the state government to funding the Picton bypass. This is a huge issue - people's lives are at stake."