‘I just gave up’: Residents vent anger over Rozelle traffic chaos at fiery meeting

Save articles for later

Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.

One of the state’s top transport bureaucrats has faced a barrage of complaints from residents who have endured nearly two weeks of gridlock since the bungled opening of the Rozelle interchange.

Transport for NSW coordinator general Howard Collins fronted a crowd of more than 250 people at a fiery public meeting at Balmain Town Hall in Sydney’s inner west on Thursday night.

Residents at a fiery public meeting on Thursday over the Rozelle interchange.Credit: Edwina Pickles

Collins said traffic leaving the Balmain peninsula had for the first time showed signs of clearing more quickly on Thursday morning, prompting one audience member to shout: “I just gave up”.

“What we’ve seen this morning is Robert Street [in Balmain] is clearing better. I know it’s no solace to anyone here tonight who’s been stuck in horrendous traffic,” Collins said.

“I appreciate there’s a long way to go.”

Motorists have been delayed by bottlenecks on Victoria Road and the City West Link after the opening of the $3.9 billion underground spaghetti junction, which links to the Anzac Bridge.

Crews carried out emergency overnight works on Wednesday to add a 400-metre-long second lane on the City West Link to improve city-bound traffic flows onto the Anzac Bridge from Thursday.

Collins said continuing to boost the number of drivers using the toll-free Iron Cove Link, which bypasses Victoria Road, would be critical to easing congestion near Balmain. He also said the future Western Harbour Tunnel linking the interchange and North Sydney would improve traffic, prompting crowd members to scoff, “in 2028? That’s a joke”, and “we’re sick of paying tolls”.

Residents said at the meeting they were leaving their homes up to an hour earlier than usual to get to work or take their children to school because of the gridlock.

“I don’t think we should have to leave 45 minutes earlier, adjust our behaviour, because of this situation,” one woman said.

Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne speaks to frustrated residents at a meeting about the Rozelle interchange on Thursday night.Credit: Edwina Pickles

“You can’t get on the buses. We wait 45 minutes for a bus to go 3 kilometres. There is no solution that helps us.”

Inner West Council Mayor Darcy Byrne said the traffic chaos generated by the interchange opening was “exactly what we have predicted would occur and must be addressed as a matter of urgency”.

“It’s cold comfort to say ‘I told you so’. What this community needs now is solutions, and that’s what this meeting is about.”

Byrne said the council would form an expert community panel to scrutinise the problems sparked by the project, and the government’s response.

The council is also agitating for the immediate release of real-time traffic data and travel times for Victoria Road, the City West Link and the Anzac Bridge, and a review of the lane configurations on Victoria Road and the City West Link.

Balmain MP Kobi Shetty said some of the measures implemented to improve congestion since the interchange opened on November 26 had shifted the bottlenecks elsewhere, noting delays on Johnston Street in Annandale, which links to The Crescent overpass, had worsened on Thursday.

“The problem is the prioritisation of local traffic being behind the prioritisation of the toll-paying traffic,” Shetty said, prompting applause from the crowd.

Speaking before the meeting, Collins said he was “very keen” to get the community’s feedback.

“I hope they do it in a nice way, but I’ve got a thick skin, and I appreciate people’s frustration.

“I’m not going to talk down to people and tell them why they’re wrong. I’m here to listen.”

Start the day with a summary of the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up for our Morning Edition newsletter.

Most Viewed in National

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article