November 20 - 26, 2022: Issue 563



Wakehurst Parkway Improvements: more Details on $75 Million spend announced by NSW state government

In the Budget papers presented in October 2022 the Federal Government cancelled around $2 billion in grants that were promised by the Coalition in its Budget announcements.  Some of these projects were from the Urban Congestion Fund and include commuter car parks, road upgrades and rail projects. The Urban Congestion Fund (UCF) was established in the 2018–19 Coalition Budget. The stated objective of the UCF was to ‘support projects to remediate pinch points, improve traffic safety and increase network efficiency for commuter and freight movements in urban areas’. Total funding for the UCF had grown from $1 billion to $4.8 billion by March 31st 2021.The $660 million National Commuter Car Park Fund was a component of the UCF.

The Urban Congestion Fund was the focus of an audit by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) in 2021 that found the Department of Infrastructure’s administration of the commuter car park projects within the Urban Congestion Fund was not effective and that the department’s approach to identifying and selecting commuter car park projects for funding commitment was not appropriate and that it was not designed to be open or transparent.

Visit: Wakehurst Parkway Funding For Warringah Intersection, Installing Pedestrian Bridge Scrapped From Federal Budget: Continued Closures Isolate Pittwater Community From Nearest Hospital

The NSW Government allocated $40 million in the 2022-2023 Budget towards funding for safety and capacity improvements to Wakehurst Parkway (jointly funded with Commonwealth Government). However, this was prior to the new Commonwealth government taking office and announcing it was dumping some funding promises made by the previous Coalition government, including that announced for upgrades to the Aquatic Drive intersection and a pedestrian bridge as part of Wakehurst Parkway improvements.

On Tuesday November 15, 2022 the State Government stated the Wakehurst Parkway will undergo safety and traffic flow improvements as the NSW Government outlined how $75 million in funding will be spent along the Northern Beaches road.

The roadworks, including the asphalting of a 2.8 kilometre section of the Wakehurst Parkway, are being undertaken through the NSW Government’s $147 million Greater Sydney State Roads Assets Restoration ProgramThis work will be carried out between Judith Street and Aquatic Drive from November 23rd 2022.

No details of what the Greater Sydney State Roads Assets Restoration Program is or when it commenced were provided. There is no allocation of funds listed in the 2022-23 NSW State Budget for this Program.

The Judith street intersection was stated to be one of those that would be kept open during works for the Northern Beaches Tunnel - Beaches Link project. Three kilometres of Wakehurst Parkway to the Northern Beaches Hospital were to be upgraded as part of that project.

Minister for Infrastructure Rob Stokes said works along the 9.5km section of the Parkway from Narrabeen to Frenchs Forrest would include localised widening and additional turning lanes to reduce crashes and improve the efficiency of the corridor.

“Sections of Wakehurst Parkway are some of the most dangerous black spots on the Northern Beaches, which is why we’re pressing ahead with our $75 million funding commitment,” Mr Stokes said.

“These works will help reduce crashes, improve access to Northern Beaches Hospital, and save commuters time by improving the overall efficiency of the wider road network.”

Minister for Metropolitan Roads Natalie Ward said the upgrades would have flow-on effects for the adjoining road network.

“The works will improve traffic signals at the Dreadnought Road intersection, upgrade the Oxford Falls Road West intersection, improve southbound lane capacity on the approach to Frenchs Forest, and improve safety at Elanora Road,” Mrs Ward said.

“Wakehurst Parkway is nestled within an incredible bushland setting so these important safety improvements will be designed and delivered to minimise impacts on the local environment and community, with updates every step of the way.”

The Dreadnought Road intersection and Oxford Falls Road West intersection works follow on from those undertaken in September 2019 for these roads around the Northern Beaches Hospital. 

Transport for NSW spent $700 million to upgrade the road network around the new Northern Beaches Hospital, with the Warringah Underpass opened on March 29th 2020 and the rest of the road network upgrades completed in August 2020.

Member for Wakehurst Brad Hazzard said the first round of community consultation would occur in 2023.

“This is a key corridor for the Northern Beaches and these works will make the Wakehurst Parkway a safer and more reliable road,” Mr Hazzard said.

Dr Sophie Scamps MP for Mackellar stated, ''I welcome the NSW Government’s announcement that state funding previously allocated to prepare the Wakehurst Parkway for the Beaches Link tunnel project will instead be used to ease congestion and address black spots where deadly accidents frequently occur. 

This is the right decision and will help alleviate some of the major problems with this main arterial road.

I would also like to acknowledge the flood mitigation work the Northern Beaches Council will be conducting on the council land adjacent to the road. The intent of these works is to dramatically reduce the number of annual flooding incidents that close the road. 

At a federal level, I am engaging with the office of the Federal Infrastructure Minister and will continue working with the Northern Beaches Council and the NSW Government to ensure all levels of government are working together to address the urgent issues facing this arterial road.''

The government states the funding is in addition to the $18.1 million already provided to Northern Beaches Council to improve flood mitigation on Wakehurst Parkway.

Member for Davidson Jonathan O’Dea stated in November 2020 the further $13.1 million in funding would support multifaceted flood mitigation at the three key locations susceptible to flooding along the corridor – with works including new under road culverts and drainage, creek realignment, sediment removal and new levees.

Residents stated during consultations for flood mitigation works undertaken by the council, and funded by the state government/taxpayer at $18.1 million, allocated as $5 million in 2017 and $13.1 million in 2020, that destroying the 'park' alongside Wakehurst Parkway, and where the road gets its name from, is not part of the community vision for the road and the Narrabeen Lagoon State Park surrounding it.

The Council stated on March 23, 2022 their intention is; ‘With respect to the Bends site further down the road, due to the potential environmental impacts, Council will undertake further investigations at this location to consider alternate solutions including additional peer and technical reviews of existing and new options’.  

Council have committed to proceeding with, at this stage, ‘Detailed design and environmental assessments will now get underway specifically for the Oxford Falls site with a view to designs being completed by mid-year which will then allow construction to commence.’

In response to posting the announcement on the Pittwater Online News' Facebook platform a number of comments and emails were received, most of them concerning the fact that the statement still makes no commitment to addressing the flooding on the parkway which sees it close, cutting off access to the only hospital with an Emergency Department those at Narrabeen and all points north now have as their local hospital. 

Permanent  24/7 access and not impacting on the bush of the parkway has led a number of residents to advocate for a road bridge over those sections which flood. One email included this idea from Elanora Heights Building Designer Dick Clarke of Envirotecture: 

Wakehurst Parkway Road-raiser Flood and Wildlife solution sketch, courtesy Dick Clarke, Envirotecture

Flooding has continued to close the Wakehurst Parkway throughout 2022, especially during high rainfall events, or after periods when persistent rain has caused more water to flow over already soaked ground. Some sections along the road that had not been the first to flood and close the parkway now are - an example:

October 25, 2022: FLOODING: North Narrabeen to Oxford Falls - WAKEHURST PARKWAY CLOSED; Wakehurst Parkway between Sydney Academy Of Sport And Recreation and Oxford Falls Road - Started yesterday 12:21pm - Road closed in both directions.
Attending: Emergency services. 
Advice; Use an alternative route, Plan your journey
Other Advice; OXFORD FALLS Oxford Falls Road between Wakehurst Parkway and Aroona Road CLOSED
Diversions; Motorists can use Pittwater Rd and Warringah Rd, in both directions. 
Reported By; Transport Management Centre.

Others responded to Mr. Stokes statement that works along the 9.5km section of the Parkway from Narrabeen to Frenchs Forrest would include localised widening and additional turning lanes - all expressing concern and asking for details on where the widening was proposed. When announced as a jointly funded project of $150 million, part of that plan was to widen Wakehurst Parkway to two lanes in both directions at Warringah Road for 500 metres. 

As stated by Mr. Hazzard, community consultation will begin in 2023. 

Details of the road resurfacing works of the Wakehurst Parkway sections in the Frenchs Forest to Seaforth which the community may need for the upcoming weeks are:

SCHEDULED ROADWORK Resurfacing; Seaforth to Frenchs Forest
Wakehurst Parkway between Judith Street and Aquatic Drive - Sun 27 Nov 2022 to Tue 13 Dec 2022 - 8:00pm to 5:00am; Road closed both directions
Advice: Reduced speed limit (40km/h), Use diversions
Other Advice: Resident access will be maintained. Access for buses and emergency services will be maintained through the work zone at all times.
Diversions - Light vehicles:
Northbound: Frenchs Forest Rd, Sydney Rd, Burnt Bridge Creek Deviation, Condamine St, Kentwell Rd, Allambie Rd & Warringah Rd.
Southbound: Aquatic Dr, Allambie Rd, Kentwell Rd, Condamine St, Burnt Bridge Creek Deviation, Sydney Rd, & Frenchs Forest Rd.
Heavy vehicles:
Warringah Rd, Pittwater Rd, Condamine St & Burnt Bridge Creek Deviation in both directions.
From: Live Traffic NSW