F6 extension could take another 20 years

The Illawarra has been waiting years for a wish-list of transport infrastructure projects.

And it seems the region will continue to wait for most of them, according to the NSW government's transport master plan.

The F6 extension - the dream of many Illawarra residents who drive to Sydney - has been listed as a "long-term priority". That effectively means a 10-year wait at the very least, but perhaps closer to 20.

"Connecting the F6 [M1] to Sydney's motorway network is a major long-term priority," the report said.

"We will progress a motorway project between St Peters near Sydney Airport and Loftus in Sydney's south."

The master plan identifies the extension as one of the "missing links" in the road network that creates congestion.

The Maldon-Dombarton rail line, designed to ease the strain on the rail network by giving freight to and from Port Kembla port its own line, got little attention in the report.

The government was prepared to commit to little more than investigating the importance of preserving the rail corridor, apparently leaving the funding of the actual rail line to the federal government.

In terms of Port Kembla itself, the plan commits to developing growth plans with the port corporation and new long-term lessee of the port.

"The focus will be on driving efficiencies, transparency and investment, and implementing a market-driven approach to port operations," it said.

Work already committed or actually under way - such as stages one and two of the Princes Highway upgrade and safety improvement work on Picton Road - is also included in the report.

Illawarra rail commuters would seem to be the biggest winners in the master plan.

In the next five years, the government has promised to build a new train station at Flinders, as well as carry out improvements at Dapto, Albion Park, Wollongong, Kiama and Gerringong stations.

There is also a plan to reduce the Sydney to Wollongong rail travel time, in line with Infrastructure NSW's recommendations to make changes around the edges rather than invest in new trains and track.

"The timetable changes being investigated for Sydney's rail future, the creation of NSW Trains and modern signalling technology will deliver faster travel times and greater travel reliability between Wollongong and Sydney," it said.

"Our goal is to reduce public transport travel time between Wollongong and Sydney. We will support these rail services with an integrated bus service."

Also, by mid-2013, the government plans to introduce the Opal Card electric ticketing system to the rail network. It is envisaged the system will be operational on ferries, trains, buses and light rail in Sydney, the Hunter, Central Coast, Illawarra, Southern Highlands and the Blue Mountains by 2015.

There is also the pledge to work with Wollongong City Council on a plan to fulfil the government's aim of getting 15 per cent of peak hour trips to and from the Wollongong CBD on public transport by 2016.

Shellharbour MP Anna Watson said she was unimpressed with the "glossy report" and noted no mention of the Albion Park bypass.

"This transport master plan will be irrelevant unless the NSW government starts taking infrastructure building seriously in the Illawarra region," Ms Watson said.

She also questioned what the $100 million which Treasurer Mike Baird had promised the region from the leasing of the port would be spent on.

"I again call on the Treasurer and Minister for the Illawarra to release the details on how the government intends to prioritise regional infrastructure projects under its proposed $100 million commitment flowing from the lease of the port of Port Kembla," she said.

The end of the existing F6 at Waterfall.

The end of the existing F6 at Waterfall.

"Surely after six months the government has some idea on what the process for prioritising infrastructure projects in the Illawarra will be and how stakeholders will be able to contribute to identifying projects."


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