$5 TOLLS FOR NEW HAR­BOUR TUN­NEL

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - HARRY & MEGHAN - MI­RANDA WOOD SE­NIOR WRITER

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”.

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