The future of the Northern Beaches Tunnel, also known as the Beaches Link, remains shrouded in vagueness this week, leaving residents – and journalists seeking answers – in limbo.
The Beaches Link, also known as the Northern Beaches Tunnel, was scheduled to start in 2023 and be completed by 2028 according to the timelines provided in the Environmental Impact Statement, pending planning approval. It has been designed to have two portals (entries/exits) – one in Balgowlah and one in Seaforth – taking vehicles through 7kms of tunnels under Middle Harbour and the lower North Shore, connecting with the Warringah Freeway in Cammeray.
But with Infrastructure NSW, the independent advisers to the NSW Government on public engineering projects, last week recommending the delay of “mega projects” due to a marked rise in construction globally (reducing capacity and increasing costs), the government has all but explicitly stated the project has been shelved.
The Tunnel will still happen, just not right now, seems to be the takeaway from government and politicians, but getting a straight has proven near impossible.
Responding to the report in a press conference last week, Premier Dominic Perrottet reportedly said, “it’s only proper that we sit there, as we always do, and look at the pipeline of those projects and ensure that we sequence them in a way that works.”
Local State MPs Rob Stokes (Infrastructure; Pittwater) and James Griffin (Environment; Manly) referred our specific and clear questions about the project back to Transport for NSW.
Asked to confirm the delay, a Transport for NSW (Transport) spokesperson told Manly Observer, “The NSW Government remains committed to the planning for the Beaches Link project which will be a vital connection for our growing city.
“The Beaches Link tunnel is yet to receive planning approval. The precursor to Beaches Link is the Western Harbour Tunnel, the first stage of which is already being delivered. The second stage of the Western Harbour Tunnel is currently out for tender.”
We asked whether the 2023-2028 proposed timeline was still in train – yes or no – and were told:
“Transport will continue to keep the community up to date.”
An Infrastructure NSW spokesperson told Manly Observer, “The State Infrastructure Strategy 2022-2042 recommended that the NSW Government reconsider the timing and sequence of future mega-projects to diversify the State’s investment program and mitigate delivery risks. It did not recommend suspending or cancelling the Northern Beaches Link.”
There has been no suggestions from political representatives that the mega project is cancelled, but what denotes a delay without timeline and what a suspension of a project is unclear. However, Transport did confirm that they were still engaged to work on aspects of the project, such as working “closely with key stakeholders to address issues raised during the Environment Impact Statement (EIS) process.”
Homes are still be acquired in the Balgowlah area, they confirmed.
What about the compulsory acquisition of homes in Balgowlah?
Transport says 21 homes have been acquired of the total 35 they intend to acquire as part of the works around Dudley Street in Balgowlah for the tunnel. A Transport spokesperson added:
“Transport acknowledges that property acquisition can be stressful and we will continue to engage with property owners through dedicated personal managers as our planning continues.
“We recognise individual circumstances may differ and our priority is to work closely with each owner to minimise impacts as much as possible.
Owners will be provided with more time if that’s what they require. Alternatively, properties can still be purchased from owners who wish to sell now. Presently, 21 out of 35 residential properties have been acquired, with all of these completed on a voluntary basis.”
You can read our previous articles about the Beaches Link below:
Full project details are available here.
The Infrastructure NSW paper can be read in full here.