Schools lobby for Pennant Hills Road pedestrian bridge

One step closer: Geoff Lee and principals Susan Middlebrook and Russell Bailey say the proposed bridge will save lives. Picture: Geoff Jones
One step closer: Geoff Lee and principals Susan Middlebrook and Russell Bailey say the proposed bridge will save lives. Picture: Geoff Jones

It’s been hailed as the $5 million bridge to nowhere.

Parramatta MP Geoff Lee and school principals have hit back at claims a proposed pedestrian overpass over busy Pennant Hills Road at North Parramatta is a waste of money.

DownerMouchel will build the bridge at the intersection of Masons Drive, where a number of schools and a preschool are located. Construction is due to start in the coming months and will include day and night work.

Burnside Gardens resident Nancy Di Re believes the $5 million would be better spent on relieving the traffic nightmare in Norwest Business Park, where she works.

“The bridge will have no purpose,” she said.

“It won’t help the primary school. All it will help is the rich schools. This is taxpayers’ money spent on something where most kids are driven to the school. There are speed cameras on either side so you’d have to be a real idiot to speed around here. This bridge needs to be stopped as Norwest needs this money urgently.”

Out of 45 public submissions, 24 were in support of the bridge, 15 against and six were neutral, according to an RMS letter sent to Ms Di Re.

“We also door knocked 130 properties in the North Parramatta and Oatlands areas. Of the 49 community members reached, 20 were supportive, three were not supportive and 26 were neutral,” the letter states.

Redeemer Baptist School has lobbied for the bridge for 20 years. A young girl sustained serious injuries when her grandmother led her crossing Pennant Hills Road late last year, according to principal Russell Bailey.

He will be inconvenienced by construction but strongly recommends the project as a school headmaster and local resident.

“I observe many students crossing Pennant Hills Road in the vicinity of Masons Drive to attend education each day,” he said.

“I often observe cars and more often, trucks disobeying the stop light at the Masons Drive intersection, thereby endangering the lives of children who are properly obeying pedestrian lights at the intersection.”

Tara Anglican School for Girls principal Susan Middlebrook said it was a dense traffic zone. “There are five schools close by and within walking distance of this crossing. Over the years, there have been many near misses with children coming close to being hit by cars and I am very keen to avoid an injury to a child or worse. I do appreciate that people feel that money can always be spent on other projects, all for good reasons, but the safety of children will always rank as the highest need for me,” she said.

Mr Bailey acknowledged an old fig tree will be removed. “Ultimately, the lives of our children are worth more than the life of one tree, which has been hazardously dropping dead branches over the last few years as it approaches the end of its natural life,” he said.

Burnside Public School staff have to keep a close watch on children crossing the road, according to Dr Lee.

“There’s complete chaos getting in and out of here in the morning and afternoons,” he said.

“I’m the MP for Parramatta and I’m proud to get this bridge that schools have been lobbying years for.”

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