Aurecon stood by this philosophy when delivering meaningful and crucial public participation and feedback on the M4-M5 Link project; the third of five stages of WestConnex, the nation’s largest road infrastructure project.
WestConnex provides major motorways and improved road infrastructure through Sydney's west, predominately covering some 33 km of underground area. Benefits include bypassing the city to the north and south, quicker trips and an increase in open space. Since commencement in 2013, the project has attracted localised opposition, along with the attention of lobby groups including those prioritising public transport, locals wanting to preserve the current fabric of inner west suburbs, and those with a political agenda.
Delivered against a backdrop of discontent, the M4-M5 Link forms a critical part of WestConnex, connecting the first two WestConnex projects (the New M4 and the New M5) which provide an inner western bypass of Sydney’s CBD, including new underground twin tunnels.
In view of lessons learnt from the first two WestConnex projects, and in line with the Aurecon team’s goal of maximising opportunities to provide feedback and contribute to a project, the M4-M5 project management commenced community consultation for the M4-M5 Link a good two years ahead of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) going on display, considerably earlier than the 12-month legislative requirement.
Extensive infrastructure project experience working with the impacted communities and stakeholders meant that Aurecon’s engagement team was well-positioned to lead the project team and communities on the best way forward. Aurecon responded to the social and political challenges by making a conscious decision to cut through the negative ‘noise’ and focus on proactive engagement and gains for affected stakeholders. Responses to these challenges included:
As a result of community feedback and resultant refinements to design, adaptations were implemented directly contributing to community satisfaction. This included a project commitment of protecting Blackmore Oval and Easton Park by not using it as a construction laydown site, and providing new connections between Bicentennial Park, Easton Park, Rozelle and Lilyfield, protecting local streets from heavy traffic. Extra public open space has also been created and a strategy for active transport (walking and cycling) is being developed.
WestConnex is scheduled for completion in 2023.