Pittwater Numbers Game: The Budget Breakdown
Mona Vale Road funding push
The Liberal government has seemingly priortised the Mona Vale Road upgrade for Pittwater this budget, dedicating $40 million for Mona Vale East works and $4.9 million for Mona Vale West works.
This brings total allocation to date for Mona Vale East to $67.6 million and Mona Vale West to $21.4 million.
Rob Stokes, state MP for Pittwater and Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, says while the funding delivered in the budget will help to progress the works, the estimated completion date remains 2022.
“The issue up this end of the peninsula is that the infrastructure needs are a few big things that are enormously complex and expensive to deliver,” he explains to Peninsula Living.
“Mona Vale Road has been an issue I’ve been involved with since I got into politics, and I understand people are frustrated it’s going to take several more years to be completed. But when you look at how much time has elapsed since the project was needed, we’re making pretty good headway.”
Public transport promises
According to Mr Stokes, the ongoing congestion plaguing Pittwater Road and Wakehurst Parkway is also unlikely to subside soon, despite the government reiterating its promise to provide a direct bus service linking Pittwater and Frenchs Forest via Wakehurst Parkway in the budget.
“The congestion issues are not simple, and none of them are a quick fix,” he tells Peninsula Living.
“We’re very conscious of maintaining what’s special about Pittwater and wanting it, in one sense, to keep a bit of distance so it keeps its unique character while balancing that with the need for better transport and improve road networks.”
As such, no explicit funding has been issued for the Wakehurst Parkway bus service yet.
In addition, a further $51 million has been dedicated to complete road and traffic flow enhancements along the B-Line corridor between Mona Vale and the CBD this budget. This will include the construction of a new pedestrian bridge across Pittwater Road at the Brookvale stop.
It was also announced the route E60 from Mona Vale to Chatswood will benefit from 70 additional weekly services as part of the state government’s attempts to improve public transport across the state.
Additional funds for Mona Vale Hospital
The budget revealed an additional $10,000 in state funding will be provided to Mona Vale Hospital to improve the palliative care inpatient facility currently under construction.
Such funds are in addition to the $18.4 million allocated by the state government towards Mona Vale Hospital and Community Health for 2019-20.
This funding will go towards ongoing infrastructure upgrades at the hospital, which include the construction of a new Support Services Building, a 20-bed inpatient building, renovations to the Urgent Care Centre, a helipad and a new 10-bed inpatient drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility.
However, the funding increase comes amid continued calls by locals and the Save Mona Vale Hospital group to halt the demolition of the site’s 1960s-era buildings that is required to complete the reconfiguration.
In a statement released in early July, chairman of the group Parry Thomas said he was disappointed the state government was moving ahead with plans to demolish existing infrastructure despite the newly opened Northern Beaches Hospital being under investigation for service issues.
“The government now wants to pull the buildings down before Parliament has had a chance to investigate the fiasco at the new hospital,” he says.
“The NSW Coalition is placing bulldozers in the way of democracy.”
His statement reflects the ongoing campaign of Save Mona Vale Hospital and numerous locals to have the hospital upgraded and restored as a public hospital offering acute care.
Budget a roadblock to Beaches Link
A surprise for some on budget day was the state government’s allocation of just $165 million for the estimated $14 billion Beaches Link tunnel and West Harbour tunnel project.
According to budget papers, this money will be allocated to the continued planning and pre-construction phase of the project.
Warringah MP ZaliSteggall says the $165 million suggests the state government is not prioritising the project.
“To me, $165 million put towards the Beaches Link tunnel doesn’t say that we are moving on with that project in the immediate future,” she tells Peninsula Living.
“It is going to take substantially more funding for that to show we remain committed to the project, which is extremely important as the commitment to that infrastructure was taken to the election as a core promise.”
Manly MP James Griffin says the concerns of transport experts, residents and local councils voiced during the extended community consultation period, which closed in December 2018, are still under consideration.
“The money set aside in the budget will continue to allow the government to work through various issues and concerns that people may have,” he tells Peninsula Living.
Despite such public concerns and the seeming trickle down of state funding, Wakehurst MP Jonathan O’Dea maintains the Liberal-National government is wholly committed to the plans.
“If you didn’t want it, you could have voted for the Labor party,” he puts succinctly.
“The majority of people are for it and you’re going to have unhappy people no matter what you do in politics. What you try and do is act in the public interest, overall.”