$5 TOLLS FOR NEW HARBOUR TUNNEL
SYDNEY drivers will be hit with a toll of up to $5 for a oneway trip on the second tunnel under the harbour.
As the state government prepares to release new details on the $4.5 billion Western Harbour Tunnel, a Macquarie Bank research document has revealed what motorists will end up paying.
It says the tunnel, Sydney Harbour’s third crossing, would need to cost between $4.50 and $5 to “produce an acceptable return”.
The Western Harbour Tunnel will also be twin-tolled — there will be toll-collecting fa- cilities on both of its separated roads — raising the prospect that motorists could be forced to pay driving in both directions. Tolls on the Harbour Bridge and Sydney Harbour Tunnel would also likely increase to match pricing on the new tunnel. Plans are also being considered to slug motorists in both directions on the Eastern Distributor and the bridge and tunnel.
NSW Opposition leader Luke Foley said taxpayers deserved more transparency about future tolls. “Before the last election this government maintained that by selling the state’s electricity assets for billions of dollars the funds would be available to pay for all the road and rail infrastructure that was planned,” he said.
“Is there no end to the schemes this government will consider to make a quick buck?
“The fact it isn’t the best economic outcome for the state or taxpayers clearly doesn’t matter to them.”
The Macquarie document was prepared for the upcoming sale of WestConnex. It also states the new CBD bypass “will require some level of subsidy from the harbour tunnel to justify the expense”.
WestConnex Minister Stuart Ayres recently said the government would “look to equalise any travel along the same corridor”.
Toll growth has outstripped wage growth by 9 per cent in the past four years, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and by 2023, Sydney will be the world’s most tolled city.
The Western Harbour Tunnel, a 7km motorway connect- ing to WestConnex at Rozelle and crossing under the Harbour between Birchgrove and Waverton, will cut commute times.
Congestion on the Harbour Bridge and tunnel and Anzac Bridge will also ease, with traffic forecasts showing about 40,000 vehicles would use the new tunnel in 2023.
A spokesman for NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey repeated a statement issued in response to any questions about the tunnel tolls, saying the government was “doing its homework with the community”.