31 January 2024

Feedback on M1 ramps at Dapto flows in but only one in-person session planned in final days of consultation

| Keeli Royle
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Map of Dapto with three proposed ramp locations.

Community members have less than a fortnight to have their say on proposed M1 ramps at Dapto. Photo: Transport for NSW.

Thousands of submissions have already been made in response to plans for M1 ramps at Dapto, but with less than a fortnight until consultation closes, there is only a small window of opportunity left for the community to have their say on the long-awaited project, particularly those holding out for an in-person session.

Since consultation commenced last month, Transport for NSW has received more than 3200 contributions on ways the community believes the notoriously congested part of a key Illawarra corridor can be fixed, with most received through online surveys.

“I think it’s great that people are passionate about this project,” Shellharbour MP Anna Watson said. “I know the people of Dapto and the surrounding areas have been talking about this for a long time and I’ve been talking about this for a long time in NSW Parliament.”

READ ALSO Community urged to have a say on long-awaited M1 ramps proposed for Dapto

But despite the impressive response, community members with questions or those who want to talk to someone face-to-face, will have limited opportunity to do so, with only one in-person session planned, four days before submissions close.

At the drop-in session planned for Thursday 8 February between 10 am and 2 pm outside Woolworths in Dapto Mall, people will have the opportunity to meet the project team and have their questions answered as well as share their thoughts.

And despite this time slot being unsuitable for many workers who will be impacted by the project, Ms Watson said she would make sure the community felt that they’d had adequate opportunities to have their say.

“It may or may not be enough and that will be determined by the bureaucrats and by the community themselves,” she said.

“If the community feels that they need more consultation and it’s not enough then I’m more than happy to ensure that happens.

“But we need to keep in mind that I have been consulting with the community now about this for about eight years – I’ve done surveys, I’ve done petitions, I go out into that area and speak to people on the street all the time, so we know what the issues are.”

Anna Watson MP at Kanahooka Rd M1.

The government is following through on an election promise to introduce on- and off-ramps to Dapto. Photo: Supplied.

One submission on the project that is still to come will be from Wollongong City Council (WCC).

Councillors will vote on the recommendations at next Monday’s meeting, which raises issues such as the completion of a public transport service plan and road capacity improvements in both directions.

The proposed submission states Emerson Road as the preferred location, and spoke against Kanahooka Road as an option “due to the significant flooding concerns of the connecting network and proximity to the level crossing to the Princes Highway”.

Ms Watson said she was already in talks with the WCC general manager about some of these issues and considerations like flooding would need to be taken into consideration.

“It’s up to the bureaucrats to determine but those studies are going to have to be done and that will play a huge part in what site is chosen,” Ms Watson said.

And she said while community understanding and input was crucial, the site would need to be determined based on a range of factors.

“We have to be confident knowing that the experts are handling this and that they will listen to what the community’s views are and where they want these ramps, but at the end of the day it’s up to the bureaucrats and the experts to determine what is the most appropriate site to build on and that’s what we need to listen to,” Ms Watson said.

READ ALSO Urgently needed care clinic opens in Dapto

Early planning is set to be completed by the end of this year and although no funding has so far been allocated for further stages, Ms Watson said she met with the responsible ministers regularly.

“We need to get this done properly; I don’t want it rushed, I don’t want it pushed through just for the sake of saying we’ve started to build the on- and off-ramp. I want to ensure that the community is happy with the chosen site and the reasons behind it,” Ms Watson said.

“My role, not only as Parliamentary Secretary but also as the Member for Shellharbour, is to ensure that the community are being kept up to date on the progress, like when the geotech reports are done, when the site is determined, when the contracts are issued, when work is commencing, what is the estimated completion date.

“The community can be assured that they will be hearing from me constantly on this project.”

As well as the drop-in session on Thursday 8 February, residents and road users are being urged to provide feedback on their priorities and habits through the NSW Government website, with submissions closing on Monday 12 February.

“I think that people also still have questions and that’s why we’re having the drop-in session,” Ms Watson said. “And people can still email me, they can ring my office; I’m more than happy to meet with constituents on this issue.”

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