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our bridge has been stolen

We have known for many years that the Prospect Highway (Reconciliation Drive) and the Blacktown-Wetherill Park Transitway were to be built through the Boral Quarry and that there would be an impact to the Lower Prospect Canal Cycleway. However, the RTA and Boral have consistently indicated that this wouldn't happen before 2016.

We were always assured that the heritage issues of the canal would be appropriately addressed, but if a section needed to be removed that a bridge would be built to ensure that SAFE passage over the road corridor would be available.

As an example, here is an exchange of correspondence between CRAG and the RTA back in 2001 where our fears were allayed.

Note the sentence in the RTA reply that states:

"Your organisation would be consulted for comment when detailed planning for the bridge commences."
A reasonable person would be forgiven for believing that a bridge was to be built and that the community would be consulted if this changed. But that hasn't happened has it!

Quietly in 2005, the RTA applied for permission to have a section of the canal exempted from heritage protection. The application and approval received back from the Heritage Branch of NSW Planning both refer to the bridge that would replace the missing section of cycleway. RTA plans even showed a bridge.

It looked like this (click for larger image in a new window):

Boral's Concept Master Plan also clearly shows a "New Bicycle Bridge".

All seems rosy, then out of the blue we find the following.

In Item 8 on page 9 of Boral's Preferred Project Report the following is attributed to the RTA:
Issues Raised by RTA(Date:18 January 2007) 8. The Cycleway Bridge proposed as part of the Lower Canal Cycleway linking Prospect Reservoir to Guildford (Bay to Mountains via Holroyd in Bike Plan 2010) is not part of the current proposal and that the cycleway crossing of the North-South Spine Road would be incorporated into the proposed traffic signals at Roads 7 & 8.
On page 39 of the same document under Table 3.1 (Revised Statement of Commitments) at item 28 Boral states the following:
At Widemere where the southern cut crosses the canal, Boral will replace the cycleway with an at grade crossing designed to specifications agreed with the RTA and incorporated in the Revised Deed of Agreement.
So after years of leading us to believe that a bridge was a forgone conclusion, that we needn't worry about losing a SAFE cycleway, one day, we wake up and find that some anonymous bureaucrat in the RTA has just stolen our bridge.

It is just NOT ACCEPTABLE that some faceless bureaucrat makes a decision like this, without community consultation, and vanishes into the labyrinth of the RTA, safe from the consequences of their decision, to hide and wait for the storm to blow over. We have tried to make contact with whoever is responsible but the culprit remains well hidden behind switchboards and people who won't divulge phone numbers.

The RTA must be compelled to revert to the original plan that maintained community access to a SAFE cycleway.The only acceptable solution to the community is the construction of a bridge to traverse the highway as shown on the plans.

Boral is constantly stating that they have provided $700,000 to the RTA for the cycleway, as part of this project, and that they will be spending $500,000 on a signalized crossing. Now that our canal has been destroyed we don't want a signalized crossing. WE WANT OUR BRIDGE. So why can't they take the $1.2 million and just build the bridge that they were supposed to build from the start.

If the NSW State Government can find $200 million to host a religious event, then a bridge to restore a SAFE cycleway is mere chicken feed.

And the cycleway bridge MUST be built BEFORE traffic is allowed to use the Prospect Highway or Transitway. None of the usual far off promises with no budget allocations are acceptable.

This is the sensible solution. We just need the planners, approvers and bean counters to understand this.

You can help, just go to our solution page and follow the instructions.

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