In 2002 the RTA commissioned, on behalf of the Australian Government, a study to identify a route connecting the Western Sydney Orbital (M2/M7) to the F3, in Sydney's north, to relieve pressure on Pennant Hills Road and Pacific Highway.
The F3 to Sydney Orbital Link Study, carried out by consultants Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM) examined three corridors (Types A, B and C) and ultimately recommended that the preferred route follow the Type A Purple Option, linking the F3 to the M2 via an 8 km road tunnel beneath Pennant Hills Road, and this was duly accepted and endorsed in July 2004 by the Australian Government.
Significant objection and vocal opposition to the study's recommendations led to the 2007 Review of the F3 to M7 Corridor Selection by the Hon Mahla Pearlman AO, former Chief Judge of the NSW Land and Environment Court.
The Pearlman Report of September 2007 recognised changes in land use and transport flows since the study, however these reinforced the selection of the preferred route. The report also confirmed that assumptions and data used in the study were valid, and overall recommended that:
- the preferred route [the Type A Purple Option] 'be progressed to the next stages of investigation including: detailed concept design, economic and financial impact assessment'; and
- a Type C corridor be planned.
2008 saw many hysterical stories and editorials in local newspapers complaining about hold-ups on the F3 due to serious accidents and bushfires.
Ever since the original SKM study, local groups and identities – supported by the Pearlman Report (as an option after the tunnel link construction), the NRMA and a Sydney Morning Herald editorial in January 2008 – are calling for the construction of another freeway link from the Central Coast to the M7, crossing the Hawkesbury River west of the existing F3 crossing.
STEP has always been aware of the danger to urban bushland posed by the old Lane Cove Valley freeway corridor. In recent years, we have continued to comment, preparing submissions for SKM's study and the Pearlman Report, as there are still vested interests lobbying for a surface route through the Lane Cove Valley and also because transport planning impacts on our present and future environment.
STEP is opposed to any F3 to Sydney Orbital link as will ultimately:
- increase traffic on the local road network in the long term
- encourage unsustainable car-dependent development in the region and particularly on the coast
- cause changes to travel behaviour that will increase air pollution in the Sydney Basin
- have the potential to destroy local bushland
We insist and recommend that nothing should happen until there is an integrated transport plan for NSW, and by this we mean that there must be an end to the continuous patching up of an ailing public transport and freight transport system, that factors such as population growth and impending peak oil should be assessed and a strategy developed to take us through the next 100 years.
- STEP's position paper on the F3–M2 proposed link (June 2002, preceded SKM study)
- STEP's response to SKM's study (August 2003, published in our newsletter)
- STEP's response to SKM's background report
- STEP's submission to the review of the F3 to M7 corridor selection (April 2007, preceded Pearlman Report)