Rozelle Interchange inquiry probes rat runs, safety and ambulance concerns

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Rat runs forcing motorist off a major Sydney road and onto surrounding small and narrow side streets have been dubbed “an accident waiting to happen” as drivers attempt to adapt to a new $3.9bn Rozelle Interchange.

The final stage of the WestConnex opened in November to traffic chaos and blown-out commute times as the state government attempted to allay the problem by diverting trucks off Victoria Rd and altering traffic light patterns.

Local state MPs reported incidents of erratic driving, residents being stuck in their suburbs, and fears ambulances might struggle to “navigate through the complex traffic situation”.

“The impacts on residents are significant. I’ve spoken to residents in Renwick St and Alexandria St in Drummoyne that just cannot get out of their driveways because of the traffic congestion and the rat running that is concerning,” Liberal Drummoyne MP Stephanie Di Pasqua told an upper house inquiry into the impact of the Rozelle Interchange.

“I’ve spoken to people with genuine concerns that in an emergency, an ambulance would struggle to get, and navigate, through the complex traffic situation there, where you’ve got narrow streets and cars banking up everywhere.”

Greens Balmain MP Kobi Shetty agreed with the severity of the ran runs and said there needed to be more impact studies into how the interchange had impacted surrounding streets.

“Transport for NSW are measuring the time it’s taking to travel down Victoria Rd but not looking in more detail at surrounding streets and those impacts,” she said.

Ms Shetty said residents in Annandale, Lilyfield, Rozelle, and Balmain were getting stuck in unmonitored areas and suffering delays in getting onto arterial roads.

She said there were “fundamental design” issues with the interchange that were threatening the liveability and safety of the suburbs.

“It’s not just we’re all stuck in our suburbs, stuck in our cars or buses trying to get out or get to work or trying to get the kids to school, we’re actually seeing these broad implications where people are not safe crossing the road, people are not safe getting on their bicycles,” she said.

“(They’re) also dealing with noise and congestion around their homes that they’ve never had to deal with before.”

Both state MPs were also critical of the response from Transport for NSW and the government.

Ms Di Pasqua said she had no consultation with Transport for NSW prior to the road’s opening.

“Had we been included and consulted with, we could have spread the message to our community,” she said.

Ms Shetty questioned why the issues, including a key choke point where multiple lanes of traffic merged into one single lane, weren’t identified earlier.

“I think it’s really clear to anyone that was doing any modelling that there was going to be a severe impact and it’s been incredibly disappointing and frustrating for the community to have not had this explained in advance,” she said.

“I think it’s going to take a great deal of time for there to be trust rebuilt between the government and Transport for NSW.”

Wednesday’s hearing was the first into an upper house inquiry into the impact of the Rozelle Interchange.

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