City Hub Sydney, AltMedia, Feature Image by Steve Kwak, 2019. Licensed through CC 2.0
Turn off the Princes’ highway, and from Campbell Street to Stanmore Road, the sound of compression braking, rattling trucks and booming horns sound the march of progress towards the competition of the WestConnex New M5 project.
The controversial project has already caused the forced eviction of residents across the Inner West, and for those who remain, the scrapping of the night-time curfew threatens to potentially remove the few hours of reprieve for residents spanning across three suburbs.
For Tamara Regan and her young family, the curfew provided the promise of a good night’s sleep, until the trucks started breaking it. “My entire family were being woken up at 4am by trucks speeding along the road. The trucks would then slam on their compression brakes to stop because of the red lights at the intersection of Campbell/May Streets and Unwins Bridge Rd,” she said.
“I’ve walked outside of my home at 5am and filmed the vehicles speeding and running red lights along this intersection.”
Curfew sign removed
Already in contact with the New M5 community relations team, Ms Regan reached out to report trucks breaking the curfew at the start of the year and was told by a representative that ‘the final project design drawings… do not show truck curfew signage.’ The curfew sign, originally placed at the intersection of the Princes Highway and Campbell St, has now also been removed.
The email advised that the current contractors, CPB Dragados Samsung Joint Venture (CDSJV,) employed by Transport for NSW are ‘not in a position to permanently reinstate the signage,’ due to the ‘handing back’ of Campbell St to Transport for NSW, and ultimately to the Inner West Council, who will then have to re-apply for a curfew sign to be reinstated.
“We were promised by Martha Halliday from the original M5 team that this curfew would remain,” said Ms Regan, “now it has all been cloak and dagger action to remove the curfew by death.”
A spokesperson for Transport for NSW said “Properties in the vicinity of Campbell Road have been provided with architectural treatments to reduce impacts of traffic noise in the area… We are considering the community’s comments regarding the heavy vehicle curfew and will keep the community informed of any changes to the road network in their area.”
The curfew currently affects access for construction vehicles transiting from the 24-hour worksite on the end of Campbell St and Euston Rd. Campbell St provides the access for construction vehicles across the suburbs of St Peters, Marrickville, Enmore and Stanmore, through residential and school areas.
According to Inner West Independent Councillor Pauline Lockie, the removal of curfews would have “a very big impact… not just for residents along Campbell Street, but also May St, Edgeware Rd, Stanmore Rd and any other routes these overnight trucks would take from Campbell St.”
Council can’t act on behalf of residents
Personally affected by the WestConnex project and forced to vacate her property for development, Cr. Lockie continues to deal with concerns from residents. “I’d say barely a week goes by in which I’m not having to act on residents’ complaints about noise, pollution, construction impacts, traffic, property damage and so on,” she said. “[It] is incredibly frustrating, not just because of the distress this is causing people, but also because Council doesn’t have the power to force the state government or the project contractors to act.”
Discovering that the curfews were to be scrapped via Ms Regan’s post on Facebook, Cr. Lockie expressed her concern about the potential effects. “Residents in these areas are already dealing with high numbers of truck movements due to the multitude of infrastructure and construction projects happening here, and I think it’s unacceptable that they’d have to deal with the noise, pollution and safety issues that come with having lots of heavy vehicles using these roads all night as well,” she said.
For Ms Regan, the removal of the curfew brings even greater anxiety after years of living through construction. “The removal of the curfew would severely impact my family,” she revealed. “We are all not sleeping, and being woken by speeding trucks and compression brakes is creating a domino effect in our lives. My daughter is studying for her HSC … I have younger children who also need to function for school, and I have a highly demanding position in disability education which also suffers because of lack of sleep.
“It isn’t too late to do anything.”