By Tang Li
The NSW Government has delayed work of the Pyrmont Bay Wharf upgrade indefinitely in the face of criticism from residents and community groups.
The groups have were especially worried about the lack of community consultation surrounding the upgrade and the effect of the interim closure on businesses.
Ferry wharves in the Harbour are being upgraded to improve ferry services as part of the State Government’s $770 million Transport Access Program.
The new Pyrmont Bay Wharf will eventually be connected to the existing timber boardwalk and include a new covered steel floating pontoon, small concrete fixed bridge, and an aluminium walkway connecting the bridge to the pontoon.
This is all part of the Government’s initiative to deliver what they call“modern, safe and accessible transport”.
Deborah Mills, the Convenor of Balmain East Residents Transport Hub Action (BERTHA), was quick to leap to the defence of the wharf in her neighbouring suburb.
“We are all concerned about the scale and intensity of the new wharf design as it is going to be a transit spot for three ferry lines – Parramatta, Woolwich and Darling Harbour,” she said.
“This wharf is already congested so it will become even busier and we don’t think a residential heritage area is a suitable place to put it.”
BERTHA submitted a petition with over 1000 names to Parliament. The names of business owners along Pyrmont Bay Wharf made up the majority of the petition. Café owners were concerned about the impact the period of closure will have on their businesses during the busy summer.
This was directly addressed by the department in their decision to delay work.
“The summer period is the peak season on Sydney Harbour, and it is particularly busy for private charter vessels, with demand for berthing facilities at its highest during this time,” a Transport for NSW spokesman said.
“Starting construction of this significant project at a later date will ensure there is no disruption to customers and businesses during the busiest time of the year.”
The revelation that work was to be delayed made no mention to other concerns about the project.
The State Government is still yet to disclose to the community how much the upgrade will cost in itself.
Verity Firth, the Labor candidate for Balmain, called on the price to be revealed.
“While I welcome the Government’s decision to upgrade the wharf, it should be done in partnership with the community, particularly given it involves the expenditure of millions of dollars of public money on infrastructure they rely upon,” she said.
NSW Shadow Transport Minister Penny Sharpe reiterated that Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian must listen and respond to the understandable concerns being expressed by residents.
She says a final design that provides a seamless connection between ferry and bus services has lacked the necessary accommodation for buses to reverse in a tight bus turning area at the end of Darling Street.
A new date has not been set for the upgrade.