Monday, July 24, 2017

F6 Extension tolls revealed: $100 per week

The proposed F6 Extension toll road from Sydney to Wollongong would charge about $10 for each one-way journey, according to a leaked planning document seen by Fairfax Media and the ABC.

The return toll of around $20 would amount to $100 per week for people who commuted from Wollongong to Sydney five days a week.

The Cabinet in Confidence document says the tollway between St Peters and Waterfall would open in stages during 2024 and 2025 and would be tolled for 35 years during which the government or a private owner would reclaim the $14.5 billion it cost to build and the $3.5 billion it would cost to operate.

The toll would rise rapidly during that time, doubling from $10 to more than $20 over the first 20 years in line with a formula that lifts the toll by at least 4 per cent per year instead of the inflation rate of around 2.5 per cent. After 20 years the toll would rise with inflation.

The toll would be capped at around $8 in 2016 dollars, which would become $10 in 2024 dollars.

It would be made up of a toll of about $3.50 from St Peters to the corner of President Avenue and Kingsway road Miranda, about $3.75 from President Avenue to Taren Point, and $3.75 from Taren Point to Loftus. The section from Loftus to Waterfall would be untolled. Although the tolls would amount to $11, the total would be capped at slightly more than $8 in 2016 dollars ($10 in 2024 dollars) matching the $8 proposed for Westconnex and the $8 proposed for the Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link.

It's also about the same as the present cost of a peak adult one-way train trip between Central and Wollongong; $8.50.

The combination means a tolled trip from Sydney's Northern Beaches to the South Coast would cost around $16 each way ($32 return) in 2016 dollars, and around around $20 each way ($40 return) by the time the F6 Extension opened.

Heavy vehicles would be charged three times as much as cars and light commercial vehicles.

Asked about the leaked financial appraisal report a spokesman for Roads and Maritime Services said the F6 Extension was "in the early stages of planning with geotechnical investigations to help inform the future design, route and potential costs".

No final decision about the design or funding had been made. The community would be kept informed as the project progressed, the spokesman said.

Other leaked documents seen by Fairfax Media indicate that the proposed motorway can only achieve the promised reductions in travel time if it goes through the Royal National Park or uses land obtained by acquiring and bulldozing 460 homes and 40 commercial properties between Loftus and Waterfall.

A Roads and Maritime engagement and communication plan seen by Fairfax Media says messaging on the national park will need "careful management".

A draft Q&A for fielding questions from the media says to reply that it is "too early to speculate" when asked about the potential cost or whether the F6 Extension will be tolled.

The leak comes 22 years to the month since the previous F6 toll was scrapped in 1995. It was $1, having climbed from 40¢ when the Waterfall tollgate was opened in 1975.

In The Age and Sydney Morning Herald