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the community does not want this road through Tempe

Today, around 300 people attended a protest walk across Tempe Reserve to the RTA’s community consultation about the planned 4 lane arterial road.  The walkers could be heard chanting as they approached.  Then with a roar, they came around the trees & stood facing the tent where about 20 people were listening to a talk by the RTA on the ‘road to nowhere.’

The ‘No WAY RTA’ banner carried by local residents led the walk closely followed by the Marrickville Council banner carried by Councillors O’Sullivan, Olive, Peters, Phillips, Byrne & Mayor Iskandar. State Greens MP Lee Rhiannon also attended.  Many people expressed disappointment that other State & local MPs were not in attendance.

After a few minutes the crowd progressed to the tent & listened to the speaker.  The protesters respected that the RTA staff had a job to do & did not interrupt.  Besides, the information about this road has been vague, so everyone wanted to know the details of what was being proposed.

I asked about the location & height of the 4 lane arterial road & how many trees will be chopped down to achieve this.  The staff member said he had no idea, acknowledging, “Some trees will have to go.”  He did however, show me the route of the road & said, “It will be at least 10 metres above the ground, higher in some places.”  He said the road could not travel along the Alexandria Canal because it will cross the flight path.  Another person pointed out that the intended route put the road on top of a hill travelling in the same direction & this would also affect the flight path so the rationale didn’t make sense.  I think there is a plan cooking somewhere to build units along the Alexandria Canal.

The details of the proposed 4 lane arterial road as I understood are:

  • The road will require the removal of many mature trees in a park on the Rockdale Council side of the Cooks River (do they care?)
  • It will cross the Cooks River & travel between the mature Fig tree situated on the point of Tempe Reserve & the Robyn Webster Sports Centre (the white building with the brown drawings designed & painted by Aboriginal artist Bronwyn Bancroft as part of the Marrickville Council Public Arts Strategy in 2004)
  • 2-3 mature Fig trees look to be in the way of the road, however the staff member said this was only a guideline & may change
  • The road will go through & above the seating in rotundas, the barbeque areas & the extensive & well loved playground
  • It will then follow the curve of the park along Alexandria Canal cutting off access to the water (I doubt people will want to sit under a 4 lane highway)
  • Then it will cut through the urban forest on the city-side of the park before it travels along the crest of the hill just above Tempe Wetlands, & beside a golf driving range.  It will overlook houses in Tempe & most certainly be visible from the Princes Highway
  • The road will stop at Sydney Park & much of the 15,000 vehicles/day will end up on King Street & Euston Road

at today's protest

This road is of great concern because of pollution, noise, impact on the community, respiratory illnesses, damage to Tempe Reserve & the park on Kogarah side & both the Cooks River & the Alexandria Canal & will increase traffic through Newtown, St Peters & surrounds.

Community group Tempe 2020 are there to provide details about how this road will affect their community (see What’s on page).  SoT is concentrating on the impact it will have on trees, wildlife, the river & the Tempe Wetlands.

The well-utilised beautiful park on the Kogarah side of the river will be massively affected.  Here, I have photographed cormorants drying off their wings on the banks of the Cooks River.  It is filled with wildlife that will be severely impacted by the making of this road & the addition of thousands of vehicles speeding past each day.

Tempe Reserve is a beautiful park in its infancy.  Marrickville Council have spent millions repairing it & creating biologically diverse areas such as a salt marsh & ephemeral wetland to provide habitat for flora & fauna.  In about 10 years it will look significantly more beautiful as the current works will have established themselves & the trees will have matured. It is used by many people 7 days a week & not just for sporting activities. I do not think the community can afford to lose either park to a major road.

impact on Tempe Reserve

Most people are attracted to the point of the peninsula & Marrickville Council knows this because that’s where they put the barbeques, the playground & the seating & this is exactly where the RTA intend to put the road.

I feel annoyed that the State government & the RTA have so little respect & appreciation for these areas.  I can only assume that they, as many people in Sydney, don’t realise just what a jewel this area is.  Friends glaze over if I mention the Cooks River.  Years ago they heard it was ugly & dirty & this has remained in their consciousness.  Now it is full of lovely regrowth areas.

The State Government should be doing everything in their power to protect Tempe Wetlands & the Cooks River, which is also highly visible as one of the gateways to Sydney from the airport.  Sydney also needs to keep places like this for future generations & for wildlife.  This is a densely populated area of the inner west with few parks per capita.

The wildlife in my opinion is quite stressed with the rapid urbanisation & the continued loss of where they can live & find food.  Stopping on the perimeter of Tempe Wetlands to take photos today, the air was alive with the sounds of insects humming away.  Walk inside & you could be in a national park.

Not everything of beauty should be destroyed for more roads.  In my opinion, the State government are continuing to build this city for vehicles, not for people. As long as you encourage cars, roads will always be filled.  Spend the money earmarked for this project on public transport, not for a road system that ends nowhere & is going to force drivers into crowded Alexandria and King Street that is barely coping now.  Let the wildlife have a little pocket for themselves.  Future generations will thank you for it.

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