Greiner releases $30 billion state infrastructure plan

A 33-kilometre extension of the M4 to Sydney Airport and another M5 East tunnel are the major projects in a $30 billion infrastructure plan for the state released this morning.

The Infrastructure NSW plan, called "First Things First", also proposes a motorway connection between the F3 and M2 motorways in northern Sydney to be built in the next five years.

The plan, released by Infrastructure NSW chairman Nick Greiner and chief executive Paul Broad at a press conference this morning, would require $20 billion in government funding in the next 20 years.

Another $10 billion can be raised in tolls, the plan suggests.

The combined M4 and M5 extensions, dubbed WestConnex, are said to cost $10 billion, with just $2.5 billion in government funding.

The plan also proposes pushing buses underground in Sydney's CBD to clear road space.

This would hinge on new underground interchanges at Wynyard and Town Hall stations, to be built within five to 10 years.

The plan rejects the idea of a second rail crossing for Sydney Harbour, as proposed in a separate plan developed by the state's Transport Department.

The report recommends light rail from Central to the University of NSW, but not in the city centre.

It says the next train line to be built could be an extension of the eastern suburbs line to Randwick and Maroubra.

The chairman of Infrastructure NSW said he hoped the community would regard the report as "independent of the politics of both sides, of the bureaucracy and of the various interest groups".

Mr Greiner said he hoped people would see the plan as "coherent" and "practical".

"The last thing the average person in NSW [wants] is another theoretical exercise that has no likelihood of being achieved."

He said that he hoped that "people see it as a step towards good things happening in infrastructure in NSW."

The Infrastructure NSW plan proposes that $10 billion of the estimated $30 billion cost of the projects be funding through user charges.

The project proposes tolling on motorways but only on new and upgraded roads.

It also supports the idea of "value capture" to impose new taxes on properties that will benefit by being close to newly built infrastructure.

The report also proposes the government consider public private partnerships, including so-called "availability PPPs" where the risk is carried by the taxpayer, not the private sector.

- with Sean Nicholls

More to come

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