6 October 2023

By Grahame Lynch

Milsons Point residents who oppose the linear design for a new cycle ramp at the Sydney Harbour Bridge have made a new claim that the project cost may surge past $100 million – for infrastructure serving just several hundred users.

Joan Street, who heads a local community group, says that Transport for NSW advised in 2018 that a linear design would cost $55 million to build. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, infrastructure costs have increased 26% since then. When design costs – now over $8 million – and standard contingencies are added in, the project is now likely to cost $97 million or more, she claims.

The recent state budget provided funding for the proposed ramp as part of an “Active Transport” line item totalling $98m across four years. The funding is allocated to just two projects: the Milsons Point ramp and a dedicated bike path between Cronulla and Sutherland.

In the previous budget, the Cronulla project was costed at $24 million over two years, and the Milsons Point cycle ramp at $21 million over the same period.

At the same time, the local residents have pointed to data from Transport for NSW monitoring of cyclists on the Bridge at Dawes Point which they say shows that an average of only 590 individual cyclists use the bridge each day – slightly down over the past year – but down 34% since the project was first proposed five years ago.

The Sun’s reading of the data is that 1100-1200 cyclists are counted each day at the city-side bridge approaches, with the residents presumably assuming each makes a return trip to calculate their claimed number of individuals. Transport for NSW does not count cyclists at the Milsons Point end.

Residents are proposing their own community design which they say would be cheaper and occupy a much smaller footprint in Bradfield Park, reducing its impact on open space and bridge heritage values.

They say that the Transport for NSW ramp bears an unacceptably high cost for infrastructure used by such a small number.

For its part, Transport for NSW has already conducted preliminary work on the ramp and aims to begin construction early next year.

As we recently reported, Cr Ian Mutton has questioned whether North Sydney Council has given Transport for NSW the necessary legal consent to use the Milsons Point parkland for the ramp. While owner’s consent has been granted for a design, it does not appear that final permission has been given for a build.