The report, Upgrading Road Connectivity between the Illawarra and Greater Sydney, identified five key projects to tackle congestion, improve safety and strengthen the economies of both the Illawarra and Greater Sydney.
The report states that upgrading Picton Road and delivering the Mount Ousley Interchange and Widening project by 2025, together with upgrading the Princes Motorway at Bulli Tops by 2028, would deliver annual benefits of $95 million to road users, $125 million in economic output, an increase in NSW Gross State Product by $630 million and create 1,100 new jobs.
Picton Road will reach peak hour capacity within a few years. It carries 20,000 vehicles a day and volumes are increasing at around 8 per cent annually. A quarter of the vehicle movements are heavy vehicles, the report noting the high volume of vehicle use and number of heavy vehicles makes Picton Road a key strategic economic asset for NSW and Australia.
The report also assesses the economic impact for NSW and the Illawarra region from completing the first three stages of the F6 Extension and building the South West Illawarra Rail Line (SWIRL). If constructed, these projects are estimated to deliver more than $740 million in annual economic benefit.
Current travel times from Wollongong to Sydney in peak hour can take at least 90 minutes for the 85 kilometre journey. The same journey from Newcastle - which is twice as long - only takes 30 minutes longer. Congestion and unpredictable travel times along the Sutherland to Sydney leg means motorists are spending longer periods of time commuting.
The F6 Extension is expected to slash travel times in the morning peak by almost half-an-hour (27 minutes). SWIRL could reduce the current daily commute from Wollongong to south-west Sydney from 125 minutes by 35 to 40 minutes. More importantly, it would take trucks off Picton Road and Mount Ousley and connect the region to the growing south-west Sydney economy.
IBC Executive Director Adam Zarth said the Illawarra’s $26 billion economy made it the third largest in NSW, yet travel delays were costing the region over half-a-billion a year and that number would only continue to grow unless the necessary investment in transport infrastructure is made.
“This joint report between the IBC and NRMA demonstrates how key transport infrastructure projects will transform the Illawarra region, boost the state’s economy and improve the quality of life for people of the Illawarra and Greater Sydney,” Mr Zarth said.
“The growth underway in south-west Sydney and the development of the Western Sydney Airport means efficient transport connections are needed beyond the congested Sydney basin to the Illawarra.”
NRMA local Director Marisa Mastroianni said road and rail infrastructure between the Illawarra and Greater Sydney has not kept pace with the growth in traffic volumes and this is becoming increasingly evident. The NSW Government needs to ensure the region’s transport needs are meet in a timely manner.
“Weekday traffic volumes north from the Illawarra will increase from the current 45,000 to 54,400 vehicles by 2032. Traffic volumes to the west are increasing at a faster rate and will exceed flows to the north in 2032, so doing nothing is not an option if we want the Illawarra to reach its economic potential,” Ms Mastroianni said.
“The benefits to regional tourism alone are significant and this is of particular importance to the NRMA and our 2.6 million members as one of Australia’s largest tourism providers. Tourism in the Illawarra provides employment for over 10,000 people and is valued at almost $2 billion.
“The NRMA wants to see local tourism and the raft of other local industries grow significantly and that’s why these road and public transport projects are so important. Roads alone will not solve the region’s transport problems.
“They will boost jobs and growth and encourage more people to visit this remarkable region. Perhaps most importantly of all it will save lives by making roads safer for visitors and everyday users alike.”
The report also found:
- 30,600 (17 per cent) of Illawarra residents travel to Sydney for work each day
- 15,800 workers from outside the Illawarra travel to the region each day for work
- 80 per cent of northbound trips are by car; 20 per cent by public transport. The westbound split is 90 -10 per cent.
- The most significant bottlenecks on the Sydney to Illawarra journey occur inside Sydney. These are at Captain Cook, Tom Ugly and Alford’s Point bridges.