Building these tunnels will have a devastating impact on the lower north shore. Waverton, North Sydney, Cammeray, Naremburn, Artarmon, Northbridge and Willoughby will feel all the pain with no gain.
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The lWestern Harbour Tunnel and Warringah Freeway Environemtnel Impact Statement (9000+ pages) and the latest reference design released by Roads and Maritime Services NSW (July 2018) for the Beaches Link tells us that:
Three major projects as an extension of the WestConnex projects in our area: Warringah Expressway Upgrade (Rebuild), Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link (Tunnel)/ Gore Hill Connection.
Significant coinciding works likely to be occurring in the area include: Metro/ Crows Nest and North Sydney Over Station Build, St Leonards South Precinct Build, Several high rise approvals across North Sydney, Crows Nest and St Leonards, Channel 9 site rebuild , Willoughby Leisure Centre / Pool rebuild and local centre strategies across each "village" centre to further densify the "high streets".
Waverton,, Cammeray and Artarmon are major construction hubs for the Western Harbour Tunnel and Warringah Freeway Upgrade. Cammeray, Artarmon, Naremburn, Northbridge, Seaforth and Balgowlah will be major construction hubs for the Beaches Link and Gore Hill program of works. This means millions of tonnes of spoil from digging or dredging will come out at these sites.
Unfiltered ventilation stacks and operations buildings will be built to service the tunnels across the residential area – these are close to schools, homes, hospitals at Cammeray, Artarmon and Seaforth/Balgowlah. Dispersion of pollutants occurs across a wide area.
The Warringah Freeway will be reconfigured considerably from Milsons Point to Naremburn - this work risk assessed in the EIS as high risk in terms of dust, noise and amenity constraints in many areas.
Valuable green spaces will be lost to construction sites - these will take over substantial parts of Cammeray Golf Course and Naremburn’s Flat Rock Bushland along Flat Rock Drive. Safe use of neighboring sports facilities is unlikely – this impacts Bicentennial Reserve, the Willoughby Leisure Centre netball courts, Cammeray tennis club, Cammeray football pitch and the skate park. Several sites have bene assessed as suffering from high decibel increases making safe coaching of children difficult.
Tunneling will be 24 hours/7 days – this means non-stop noise and trucks in our streets. There will be 12 construction support sites for the Warringah Freeway portion of the project alone stretching from Rozelle to Cammeray. The number of construction vehicle movements per day is staggering - 6000 PER DAY will be needed along the route and thousands of workers will need to park and move around local streets.
Heavy equipment will be used in our residential areas for at least 5years.
Here’s what you need to know about your home or investment property…
Properties across along the tunnel construction corridor stand to significantly devalue
Property experts informed the community at a Special Precincts Meeting that properties across the area stand to devalue during and after tunnel construction (Chris Curtis – Curtis Associates). Several local real estate agents have also expressed significant concerns.
Why will properties be negatively impacted?
Property experts say in other major construction zones buyers can be put off for a variety of reasons, including uncertainty, construction noise, pollution, dust, smoke stacks, loss of tree canopy, loss of green space, traffic , property risk and parking issues.
Property experts have also advised that these issues do not necessarily disappear post construction. Given the visual dominance of the unfiltered pollution stack over the area and the extent of changes required to the Warringah Freeway it is likely that property prices will be impacted from North Sydney to Artarmon with the suburbs of Cammeray, Upper Neutral Bay, Crows Nest and Naremburn particularly impacted. Northbridge is likely to suffer during construction (particularly around Flat Rock and Middle Harbour) and afterward due to a large number of substratum acquisitions likely across the peninsular given the size of twin road tunnels and supporting facilities. North Sydney and Willoughby are expected to suffer from significant increases in local traffic due to Warringah Freeway flow changes (especially around Berry St) and local traffic delays at intersections which may affect residential and commercial prices around the Warringah Freeway.
The publics heightened awareness and understanding of increased pollution levels at most local North Shore schools may also see a reduction in the number of families deciding to move to the area.
Tunnelling under conservation and heritage areas
There are several conservation and heritage buildings along the proposed construction corridor – this impacts Naremburn, Cammeray, Crows Nest and Willoughby. Properties are at significant risk from tunnelling, blasts, heavy vehicle movements. and drawdown . Water drawdown in clay soils and around catchment areas (Naremburn, Artarmon, Cammeray) may be more problematic than vibration as significant changes in the water table and moisture of the soil can crate significant movement and property damage. Home owners should consult independent engineers.
Residents have worked hard and invested heavily to preserve these buildings and environments for the next generation – something local Councils demand. The State Government for this reason should respect local heritage and conservation designations. Unfortunately because these projects are classified as "State Significant Infrastructure" local LEP's etc are able to be ignored.
Will homeowners be compensated?
There has been no compensation for property devaluation or substratum acquisition historically with these projects. There is a process of pre-inspection and reporting damage to homes that are within 50 metres of tunnels. Speaking to WestConnex Lawyers and home owners we are not aware of any payouts to home owners to date. The Parliamentary Inquiry into WestConnex was very critical regarding the treatment of homeowners and the processes in place in December 2018.
There is a process in place to acquire land under homes however the exact properties are not outlined in the EIS documents. Based on the WestConnex and NorthConnex projects owners land is acquired if tunnels run under their houses. A pre-condition survey is generally completed if a house is within 50 meters of a tunnel (keep in mind vibrations and movement often arc out from the source rather than go directly upward). Substratum acquisition has generally been conducted above temporary access tunnels and facilities as well as mainline tunnels. You will be contacted prior to project commencement via mail or a visit if your substratum is to be compulsorily acquired.
For so much impact, surely there is some benefit?
There are no specific benefits for Cammeray, Naremburn and the surrounding suburbs. The Northern Beaches Link tunnel is designed to raccomodate more traffic coming from the Northern Beaches and the Mosman & Spit Bridge area. Much of this increased traffic is expected to be due to planned population growth on the Northern Beaches and continued car reliance. The increased reliance on public transport and changing work habits post COVID-19 have not been factored into the assumptions of traffic flows. The Western Harbour Tunnel and Warringh Freeway Upgrade is designed to increase capacity for more through traffic heading to the east of the city. No data is given to support reduced traffic on our streets...in fact the data in the Western Harbour Tunnel EIS demonstrates that a large number of local intersections fail as a result of more traffic being pushed onto local streets (including Military Rd) and many bus routes become slower or see no improvement. Transport studies have not been completed along Military Rd and Willoughby Rd's however Transport for NSW claims a 15% reduction along the Militay Rd corridor. This claim seems at odds with the worse performance at intersections, increased pollution and status quo bus speeds explored in the EIS.
The main benefits evidenced in the EIS are to through traffic and freight rather than local traffic. The EIS states that the Western Harbour Tunnel will induce an increase of 15% heavy vehicles along the route - adding to the areas already poor pollution readings. Many of our local on and off ramps will close or change resulting in increased rat running by locals accessing the freeway or trying to get home.
A tunnel designed to bring more road users into the city will likely result in more road users looking for parking in and around portal exits close to the city transport hubs i.e Artarmon and St Leonards trains, Chatswood and Crows Nest Metro and Willoughby, Northbridge and Cammeray buses.
It is clear from the data presented in the EIS documents that this is not a local congestion solution. It is a project design to grow population along planned corridors and capture revenue.
Want to know more?
A detailed analysis of the Western Harbour Tunnel and Warringah Freeway Environmental Impact Statement/ Plans can be found on the final plans page under "Our Analysis". Further summaries will be added to this page once the Beaches Link Environmental Impact Assessment becomes available in the 3rd quarter of 2020. Information has been gathered from scoping reports, reference design documents interviews with technical experts and government representatives.
To read our original scoping analysis which includes community background information please see: report on this site
To read the original government documents and community submissions go to Learn More
Page updated June 2020