Infrastructure NSW recently released its state infrastructure strategy called ‘First Things First’ which recommends 70 projects and reforms that should take priority over the next five, 10 and 20 years to drive productivity and economic growth in the state.
If effectively implemented, the organisation says these priorities will cost a total of $30 billion over 20 years but will add $50 billion to the state’s economy and create an extra 100,000 jobs.
The strategy is Infrastructure NSW’s independent advice to the NSW government to help guide future infrastructure investment. It covers urban and regional projects and reforms across transport, freight, aviation, energy, water, health, education and social infrastructure. This is said to be the first time in NSW that state wide infrastructure has been prioritised and fully costed.
Key recommendations include:
• Identifying the $10 billion ‘WestConnex’ motorway as the highest priority project to be completed in the first 10 years. The 33 km scheme includes an extension of the M4 to Sydney Airport and duplication of the M5 East to help alleviate Sydney’s traffic congestion and support more efficient freight movements;
• Investing more than $7.5 billion in passenger rail over the next 20 years (in addition to the North West Rail Link) to provide more services through the CBD and faster journeys on intercity trains to Wollongong, Gosford and Newcastle;
• Building an underground Bus Rapid Transit system that would take many buses off congested streets during peak periods and deliver faster travel times for passengers. The $2 billion project, which would be built in five to 10 years, would also involve providing bus/rail underground interchanges at redeveloped Wynyard and Town Hall stations. This would also enable part of George Street to become pedestrian only;
• Investing $9 billion in priority projects for regional NSW including fixing rail and road bottlenecks and upgrading bridges so producers can get goods to market. Other projects include new dams, better town water and road bypasses in mining communities.
• A $500 million flood mitigation plan to reduce the potential risks to people and property in the Hawkesbury Nepean Valley, which is one of the most heavily developed and at risk floodplains in Australia.