The process of digging out the two, three lane, nine kilometre road tunnels for the Northconnex project will generate a huge 2.6 million cubic metres of excavated material. The Pennant Hills Civic Trust (PCHT) has significant concerns with how this will be achieved.
The anticipation of hundreds of daily spoil disposal trucks is of great concern to local residents and the PCHT. However, neither the Government or the contractor seem to care.
We have repeatedly sought an assurance that the routes to be hammered by spoil trucks will not include residential streets, but we are yet been given this assurance.
This spoil will be removed from four different sites. Two from either end of the tunnel, in the south at the M2 and in the north from the M1. Additionally, there will be two deep shafts at Trelawney Street, Thornleigh and at Wilson Road, Pennant Hills.
We know the excavation alone will take 27 months and require up to 2630 trucks per day to transport the spoil from these four sites. In the Northconnex EIS, it was determined this additional traffic was insignificant given the existing traffic conditions on Pennant Hills Road.
But, the EIS also included 3 “turning circles” designed to get the trucks headed in the opposite direction. The first proposals, around West Pennant Hills residential streets and Phyllis Avenue Thornleigh, were deleted partly due to EIS submissions from the PHCT. We count this as a small win for the community.
The PCHT has had numerous meetings with various stakeholders in the project. We recently, heard from the construction manager, Mark Dowell, who gave a fascinating presentation on the technology used and methods required to bring the spoil to the surface.
Much earlier, in 2014, the Trust had two meetings with the NSW department of Planning to draw attention to the spoil disposal component of the EIS. Unfortunately, the intent was to get the project approved quickly and the important matter of the spoil disposal was pushed and deflected to the proponent of the project.
The ‘proponent’ in the NorthConnex case is not simple. The Planning Approval tells us it’s the Roads and Maritime Services, but NorthConnex is the result of an “unsolicited proposal” by Transurban who is also the majority funder, with all the supporting documents provided by a third party.
With the project approved and the construction contract awarded to the Lend Lease Bouygues joint venture it is evident they are acting as the contractor and the proponent.
LET’S GET SPECIFIC
The “Wilson Road Tunnel Support Facility” is the large construction on the corner of Pennant Hills Rd, Wilson Rd and Killaloe Ave – opposite Observatory Park.
Check it out at: http://northconnex.com.au/wilson_rd.php
That box will cover the 80m deep shaft, provide dust control and noise attenuation for shaft equipment, fans and the loading of all those trucks.
How many trucks will exit from Wilson Rd, Pennant Hills?
The reference above to 2630 trucks per day for the project is based on the NorthConnex EIS, a public document. We can only assume, with four sites, about one quarter of the spoil will exit Wilson Rd in trucks. That is possibly 600 trucks per day. Even at half this rate it is a lot of big heavy trucks. Enough to give you a headache.
The contractor has identified 2 exits from Wilson Rd:
Route 1 South:- Wilson Rd facility onto Pennant Hills Rd, turn right at Beecroft Rd and via the “Observatory Park turning circle” south down Pennant Hills Rd to the M2.
Route 2 South:- From the Wilson Rd facility to Victoria Rd (suburban Pennant Hills), to New Line Rd (suburban West Pennant Hills), to Castle Hill Rd, the underpass and south down Pennant Hills Rd to the M2..
MIXED MESSAGES, NOT ENOUGH INFORMATION AND NO ASSURANCE
The Northconnex website states, “Trucks removing tunnel spoil will enter and exit the site via Pennant Hills Road and will not use local roads.”
However, enquiries made by the PHCT to Northconnex suggest the haulage routes have not been fully assessed.
“[The contractor is] currently continuing to assess alternatives for the haulage routes from the Wilson Road compound,” a Northconnex spokesperson said.
“There are a number of stages, one of which will include consultation with stakeholders. The PHCT is an important stakeholder in this process and we look forward to receiving your feedback and input when we are at the relevant stage.”
The PHCT has also raised concerns at numerous meetings of the Community Involvement Group (CIG) for NorthConnex. Specifically, concerns the contractor had succeeded through the approvals process in adding a “turning circle” using Wilson Rd, Victoria Rd and New Line Rd.
For its part the contractor has claimed the haulage route to be “all sub-arterial or arterial roads currently used by the freight industry and public bus transport” and that
“local councils have been consulted and no objections have been noted.”
PCHT WILL CONTINUE TO CHALLENGE THE VICTORIA ROAD ROUTE
Despite writing to the Minister for Planning in July, November and December 2015, and to the Minister for Roads in November and December 2015 we have still not received a reply or an acknowledgement of receipt.
However, we will be meeting with State MP for the area, Damien Tudehope, to seek his support for his residents. We are optimistic he will be able to satisfactorily resolve this concern.
AFTER ALL OF THE PAIN
When completed and operational, we look forward to enjoying the stated benefits of NorthConnex of “5000 trucks a day off Pennant Hills Road” and “returning local streets to local communities.”
The PCHT is determined to continue to advocate in the interests of the residents of Pennant and West Pennant Hills. If you are interested in joining us you can visit our website at www.pennanthillscivictrust.com
President, Pennant Hills District Civic Trust