The decision by Sydney Trains to replicate the existing bridge over the railway line at Sutherland station is a short-sighted decision that will have a lasting negative impact on the ability of the local area to achieve sustainable social and economic growth.
In 2016 the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development estimated that the avoidable cost of congestion for Australian capital cities was around $16.5 billion. ‘Avoidable’ is the key word in this instance.
At a local level, the replacement of the bridge provides the opportunity to improve traffic flows as well as the safety and amenity of drivers and pedestrians. From a business perspective, an improved bridge would facilitate faster deliveries, assist people to travel to and from work and attract business establishment and growth.
State transport Minister Andrew Constance has predicted that rail patronage will rise by 21% across the network in the next 5 years. Yet, no consideration of the increased patronage or passenger movement around Sutherland station seems to have been taken into consideration.
The Sutherland CBD could be positioned as a key growth centre with world class planning that accommodates the needs of the whole community.
For local businesses, attracting and retaining qualified and talented staff in many ways comes down to positioning the Sutherland Shire as a place that welcomes innovation, diversity and growth.
But, to complete the picture, the community also needs to buy into that vision and trust that decision makers will acknowledge pain points, like traffic congestion, and work towards doing something about it when and where it is possible. The correct redevelopment of the bridge provides one such opportunity.
Our local area, residents and businesses deserve a more progressive approach to the re-development of a key piece of infrastructure. Just replacing the existing bridge with the same thing seems to be a missed opportunity that is at odds with key infrastructure developments occurring in other local government areas across Sydney.
Sutherland Shire Business Chamber
This comment piece was published in the St George & Sutherland Shire Leader 19 April 2017