Proposed changes to the Western Distributor spark concern from Pyrmont community

Proposed changes to the Western Distributor spark concern from Pyrmont community
Image: Proposed changes to the Western Distributer, including changes to ramps on the Anzac Bridge, have caused concern about pedestrian accessibility. Photo: Wikimedia commons.


The NSW government is proposing big changes to the Western Distributor, raising concerns from the community that car-centric options are being supplied to an area where pedestrian accessibility is waning.

The changes to the Western Distributor involve the construction of a new ramp connection from Fig Street, the modification of the intersection at Allen Street and Harris Street and the Pyrmont Bridge Road and Bank Street intersection. The project also aims to change the Pyrmont Bridge Road off-ramp to two lanes and to enhance visitor amenity by refurbishing the two Anzac digger sculptures on Anzac Bridge.  

However, concerns from local community groups highlight how the changes will take options away from pedestrians and potentially remove public transport options.

Lesley Bentley, convener of the Pyrmont Peninsula Public Transport Forum, says that changes to the Anzac bridge off ramp mean that a bus route connecting Parramatta with the CBD via Victoria Road will be affected.

“One of the issues that is most distressing to Pyrmont residents is the fact that changes to the Anzac Bridge off ramp will mean that the 501 bus service will no longer be able to turn right into Bank St and right into Miller St” Bentley said.

Bentley said that currently community members are asked to provide feedback to the government with their ideas on how public transport options can be preserved.

A Transport for NSW spokesperson told City Hub that the proposed changes to the Western Distributor “aim to improve safety and reduce congestion to produce a more efficient road network”. 

The proposed amendments are aimed at increasing safety by creating “improved, more consistent traffic movements between the western suburbs, the CBD and Sydney suburbs in the east and north”. In particular, the access ramp is “designed to…provide a new direct, safe access lane to Sydney Harbour Bridge”.

Community group calls out “outdated” ideas for reducing congestion 

However, community group Friends of Ultimo believes these changes will “drastically worsen” the living conditions of locals. They maintain that contrary to the aims expressed in the NSW Government’s Pyrmont Peninsula Place Strategy – to repair damage done to Ultimo and Pyrmont by the construction of the Western Distributor in the 1970s – the proposed changes would “only magnify it”.  

“It would transform Allen Street into a four lane ‘vehicle sewer’ and increase traffic along Harris Street…establish a construction site compound for two years at the northern end of Fig Lane…and add a new flyover spanning Cockle Bay, further overshadowing the iconic site and require the removal of several palm trees”, a spokesperson said.  

Friends of Ultimo also drew similarities between these proposed changes and the upgrades to the Western Harbour Tunnel and Warringah Freeway, as both projects involve roadworks at the expense of tree removal. Independent MP Kylea Tink has called to halt these roadworks due to the removal of “more than 750 trees in Cammeray and along the freeway”.  

They also oppose the “’upgrade’ of urban freeways based on the now outdated idea that increasing traffic lane numbers alleviate congestion”.  

The proposal is on public exhibition until late November, with community information sessions being held throughout October. 

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