An unbuilt road proposal from the County of Cumberland Planning Scheme

Old Department of Main Roads sign on the Eastwood County Road reservation, looking west from Grove St, Eastwood. Nov 2005.


The Eastwood County Road is a 55 year old unbuilt road proposal, stretching from Kissing Point Road at Dundas to Epping Road at North Ryde , via Eastwood. The reservation, wide enough to permit construction of a six-lane highway-standard road, was gazetted in July 1951 as part of the County of Cumberland Planning Scheme and is known as either “County Road No. 5012” or “Eastwood County Road”.

The reservation begins at the intersection of Kissing Point Road and Stewart Street in Dundas, where a block of vacant land on the north side of the intersection was reserved for future construction of a grade-separated interchange. Travelling east along Stewart Street there is a water reservoir before another block of vacant land, Lachlan Macquarie Park, is located on the north side of the road. Stewart Street has been constructed to four lane standard with a wide median – but probably not wide enough to provide four six traffic lanes and turning bays.

The reservation continues east across Marsden Road along Rutledge Street, where land will probably need to be resumed from the Brush Farm Bowling Club to avoid affecting the historic building on the southeast corner of the Marsden Rd/Stewart St/Rutledge St intersection. From here the road reserve continues east across a steep gully located between Brush Farm Park and Lambert Park, rejoining the trafficable sections of Rutledge Street at Brush Road. Thence, along Rutledge Street, Ryde Council has imposed building restrictions on properties abutting the northern side of the road to enable land to be left vacant for future construction of the County Road. A strip of land four metres deep in the grounds of Eastwood Primary School was gazetted as part of the reservation.

The railway overpass connecting Rutledge Street with First Avenue has already been constructed to its ultimate width but east of the railway line the road narrows to four lanes again and a strip of vacant land exists on the north side of First Avenue. At Blaxland Road the reservation continues directly east into Welby Street, swallowing Edgar Street in the process. From Welby Street a vacant strip of land is preserved as far as Woorang Street, which forms part of the reservation. Thence from Abuklea Road the reservation passes behind Ray Place, crossing Herring Road diagonally on the north side of Agincourt Road, through the northwest corner of Kent Road Primary School and skirting the western and northern edges of ELS Hall Park before crossing Shrimptons Creek at the end of Booth Street. The reservation then joins Epping Road at its intersection with Whiteside Street. Land was formerly reserved for a grade-separated interchange on the north side of Epping Road but was sold off and developed in 2001.


On 29 October 1965 , Stewart St , Lawson St , Brush Rd , Rutledge St and First Avenue were declared Secondary Road No. 2060. This declaration recognised the route as one which took overflows of through traffic from the sub-standard Main Roads system and thus council’s were entitled to a contribution of funding from the Department of Main Roads to pay for their upkeep and improvement. However, before long residents, business and motorists were complaining about the apparent shocking state of the road and found it quite laughable that ordinary Main Roads and council-owned local roads were in much better condition than the shared-responsibility Secondary Roads. A deputation from Ryde Municipal Council in November 1969 requested improvements works on this, and other, Secondary Roads in Ryde Local Government Area. The deputation cited numerous complaints from locals which generally revolved around the “widespread dust nuisance in dry weather and mud and slush in wet weather”; “Noise created by the large, and increasing, volume of traffic and accentuated by flaws in the shape and vertical alignment of the carriageway”; the “unsafe nature of the roads in time of peak traffic; the problems of pedestrians crossing such roads; the dangers created by buses not pulling off the constructed carriageway to set down passengers, the dangers caused by stones in the unconstructed shoulders being projected by vehicles’ tyres across the footpaths and into properties”.1

Previously, in March 1965, the Department of Main Roads had announced its intention to widen the existing railway overpass between Rutledge Street and First Ave , and constructed an underpass to allow traffic to travel between Chatham Road and West Parade without interference from Rutledge Street traffic. However, it was not until June 1975 that construction was finally commenced following drawn-out property negotiations, the need for a retaining wall as part of the West Parade underpass and the need to replace the existing two-lane timber bridge without disrupting traffic. Work was completed in two stages, with the westbound lanes of the new bridge opened to two-way traffic while the old timber bridge was demolished and the eastbound lanes of the new bridge constructed in its place. The new bridge was fully opened during November 1978; however the West Parade underpass was not completed until June 1980.

Old street directories of this era indicate that the main traffic route from the overpass to Blaxland Road was via East Parade and Rowe Street (the main street of Eastwood and site of the old railway level crossing). To alleviate congestion on this narrow dog-leg the Department of Main Roads proposed, in conjunction with the construction of the new six-lane railway overpass, to extend First Avenue from its existing terminus at Ryedale Road to meet Blaxland Road . It had been nearly impossible for traffic to enter Blaxland Road from Ryedale Road as only a give-way sign existed which did not interrupt the north-south traffic flow. Ideally, the First Avenue extension, through land gazetted as part of the County Road reservation, was to be completed at the time of opening of the new bridge; however complicated property negotiations with two deceased estates caused a twelve month delay. Causing much relief from the motoring public, the extension was opened in December 1979 - complete with new traffic signals at Blaxland Road .

Meanwhile, Marsden Road between Stewart Street and Lawson Street was realigned to eliminate two sharp curves during 1979. This was followed in December 1980 by the completion of the widening of Stewart Street to four lanes and the reconstruction of its junction with Kissing Point Road to favour east-west traffic, rather than traffic continuing along Kissing Point Road towards West Ryde .

The next step in the Eastwood County Road saga was taken in 1982 when the Department of Main Roads placed on public exhibition four alternative schemes at Brush Farm Park . Options included widening the existing dog-leg to four lanes or the smoothing out of curves on the dog-leg, the latter requiring the demolition of a number of houses not in the County Road reservation, including historic Lauriston House on the northwest corner of the Marsden Road/Stewart St intersection. However, 83% of written responses favoured construction of the deviation across Brush Farm Park and almost 60% of those favoured a bridge over an embankment. One response received was from local Democrat Bob Springett, a qualified civil engineer, who proposed that “a short length of road to connect Terry Road and Ball Ave ”2 be constructed. He went on to say that this new proposal is a “conscious attempt to use existing facilities rather than duplicate them”.3 The key to Springett’s proposal was the construction of a new railway underpass that would link Ball Ave and Doomben Ave with Eastwood Ave and Railway Ave , creating a more direct link between Balaclava and Marsden roads. Springett also advocated minor improvements to Terry and Marsden roads as well as an upgrade of Balaclava Road as recommended in the Traffic Hierarchy Study which had been completed a few years earlier. Although Springett’s proposal, in my eyes, had some merit, particularly in spreading traffic across the area rather than channelling it into one large highway, construction an underpass in that area was likely to be difficult and nothing eventuated from it.

In July 1984 the State Government released a construction timetable for all sections of the “proposed Ermington-Epping Road county road.”4 Work on the first section - the Silverwater Road extension, was already underway. The next section - the extension of Rutledge Street to Marsden Road - to be known as the Brush Farm Deviation, would begin in 1985-86 following completion of an EIS and design work. The next stage, widening of Rutledge Street and First Avenue was scheduled for 1986-88 and the final length, from Blaxland Road to Epping Road, would begin in about 1988-89.

Two months later, after some public disquiet, the Department of Main Roads decided to prepare a limited Environmental Impact Statement to allow for public comment on some of its proposed works for Eastwood. Some members of the public, particularly those against any road through Brush Farm Park , were suspicious of the Department of Main Roads’ perceived reluctance to undertake an environmental impact statement. A bombshell was dropped in November 1984 when the Northern Standard reported: “Planned roadworks in the Eastwood area could result in a major national highway passing through the suburb. This proposal is contained in a publication produced by the Australian Roads Federation which describes the national route as “a north-south urban freeway connection from Waterfall to Berowra via Alford’s Point Bridge , Rookwood Road , Silverwater Road and the northern freeway reservation, crossing the northern rail line at Eastwood.”5 This only added fuel to the fire of those opposing the Eastwood County Road and they claimed that this was the reason that the Department of Main Roads had not volunteered to prepare an EIS and also that the Department was attempting to introduce an urban freeway network by stealth!

Nonetheless, the EIS6 was undertaken on the premise that construction of the M2 Motorway would not proceed prior to construction of the County Road . The report found that the proposed road was justified on traffic and economic grounds, although there would be “significant adverse impacts of the proposal on the environment.”7 However, the report found that there would also be significant environmental benefits along alternative collector and local roads as a result of diversion of traffic to the County Road and that “by application of environmental safeguards, the impact of the proposed road would be minimised.”8 The report also scaled down the proposal from four to six lanes, prompting some to suggest that Brush Farm Park would be saved.

Unfortunately, a cut in Federal road funding announced in April 1985 saw New South Wales miss out on at least $10 million of funding. Along with various other projects, the Eastwood County Road was deferred indefinitely and the Environmental Impact Statement was never published. Despite this setback, Ryde City Council continued its unrelenting support for the proposal, submitting the Eastwood County Road to a Department of Main Roads task force as the number one priority for Ryde LGA in the Roads 2000 plan.

The proposal next resurfaced in 1989 when the announcement was made that construction of the Silverwater Road extension would go ahead, causing concern among a number of Eastwood residents who feared a significant increase in traffic volumes along Rutledge Street . The RTA’s priority at the time was to firstly construct the deviation across Brush Farm Park and widen Rutledge Street while Ryde Council advocated early construction of the section between Blaxland and Epping roads. An environmental impact review found that, while the extension of Silverwater Road would not bring about the feared increase in traffic, there was an increasing demand for travel between the Parramatta area and the North Ryde area. Thus, the study supported a change in the RTA’s construction priority, i.e. build the section east of Blaxland Road first. The review also concluded that the proposed county road “would have significant environmental impact and would require an EIS to be exhibited for public comment.”9 The study went on to say that: “the main impacts of the proposal would be increased noise for residents along the full length of the road. Because of the limited road reserve and the fronting of houses, in some sections, directly onto the proposed road, available attenuation measures would be limited. Other impacts would be loss of housing stock, severance of some existing pedestrian and vehicle travel routes, loss of remnant native vegetation and potential sedimentation problems in Shrimptons Creek, and visual impact. There are safeguard measures available which would help avoid or mitigate these impacts.”10

Local media reaction to this report was hardly favourable, with the Northern District Times reporting that “about 40 homes will be bulldozed and sections of a primary school demolished as plans continue for a six-lane highway through Eastwood” and that the road would “be completed in two stages before 1999.”11 The newspaper also reported that “while the RTA claims it only wants to build a four lane road, it does admit an intention to acquire and demolish homes to provide a corridor for six lanes.”12

Plans were again halted after the report was made public, with the Minister for Roads telling Ryde Council “it would be premature to consider the project before the findings of the Castlereagh Freeway inquiry are known.”13 In turn, Ryde Council again submitted a deputation to the Minister, believing that the proposed tolling of the F2 would free up public funds to construct the Eastwood County Road . Ryde Council cited that 36% of traffic on Lovell Road , 48% on Rutledge Street , 31% on Balaclava Road and 50% of traffic on Vimiera Road was through traffic (i.e. a destination outside Ryde LGA).

These deputations were followed in September 1990 by the ‘Eastwood County Road Traffic Study’, in which it was concluded that “a number of real benefits could be gained”14 with construction of the road, both in terms of significant reductions in traffic on local streets and savings to road users. However, the study also found that these benefits were generally outweighed by the $135 million price tag. Accordingly, the study recommended further investigations be undertaken into providing lower cost solutions to construction or alternatively constructing those sections which derive greatest economic benefit.
Investigations showed that construction of the Blaxland Road to Herring Road section along with upgrading of the existing intersection of Marsden Rd and Lawson St may provide acceptable first stage solution. The study recommended that intersections with the County Road should be restricted to North Road and Herring Road between Blaxland Road and Epping Road .

Further political indecision was an overview of options for treatments on the arterials surrounding Quarry and Lovell Roads, indicating that, because intersections surrounding existing arterials are operating at capacity during peak, the ultimate solution to the diversion of through traffic down these two roads was the construction of the County Road, together with the M2 Motorway. The study argued that, should the arterial road link to Epping Road be completed without the M2, major congestion at Wicks Road/Epping Road would eventuate and would negate any benefits of the county road as it is expected that through traffic will still use local streets. Similarly, the partial construction to Herring Road would also not attract all the through traffic from Lovell and Quarry roads and, furthermore, would transfer some traffic onto local roads such as Kent Road . Thus, it was concluded that construction of the M2 should be well advanced before the RTA considers building all, or part, of the Eastwood County Road .

An environmental overview report followed in 1995, confirming the earlier conclusion that the preferred option was the full construction of the Eastwood County Road from a ratio of community support of about 3 to 2. The environmental overview of the preferred option identified a number of likely impacts, including:

The first stage of the EIS process, an options study, was commenced in April 1996. A key recommendation of the draft report was that a final decision on the road should be delayed until the effects of the M2 were assessed, and the options study was consequently delayed. Following the opening of the M2 in May 1997 work on the study recommenced and it was released in September 1999. The preferred design was for two traffic lanes in each direction, at-grade intersections and some form of bus/public transport priority at a cost of $70 million (1998). The study also found that there was a small increase in traffic using the Eastwood County Road corridor since the opening of the Silverwater Road extension. However, one problem noted was that at-grade intersections on the proposed road would be likely to conflict with north-south traffic, causing congestion before 2006, resulting in alternative routes becoming attractive as short cuts due to delays at major junctions on the route. If this were to happen, no clear benefit would have been achieved by construction of the Eastwood County Road , other than the provision of an improved, safer alignment between Blaxland and Epping Roads. Thus, the study recommended that “the full construction of the Eastwood County Road in its existing corridor and substantial length does not appear to be strongly warranted at this stage. The economic evaluation suggests that the project is worthwhile, but would not result in a satisfactory rate of return. The planning balance sheet evaluation suggests that the ‘Do Minimum’ scenario would be preferable to full construction of the Eastwood County Road .”15

The study did, however, suggest interim improvements to the existing route to improve safety. These included:

Public reaction to the report was somewhat unfavourable with one Ryde councillor saying it was “an insult to our intelligence” that “the report was released last month with no official recommendations and no cut-off date for submissions.”16 Residents and councillors alike still support the county road as interim works would improve safety but not ease congestion.

Construction of the county road is not likely to proceed before 2010, especially in light of a 12-22% fall in traffic volumes following the opening of the M2 Motorway. So, for now, the reservation sits dormant, with a large portion of it fenced off east of Blaxland Road .

Eastwood County Road reservation
Looking west on Epping Road where the Eastwood County Road would branch off to the west, near Whiteside Street. Nov 2005.
Epping Road looking west from the footbridge at Paul Street, showing land on the north side which was part of the ECR reservation. Nov 2005.
Looking west to Whiteside Street. Nov 2005.
Looking east to Shrimptons Creek in northern end of ELS Hall Park. Nov 2005.
Looking east from the end of Adelphi Road. Nov 2005.
Looking east from Herring Road. This section of the reservation is temporarily used as a playground for Kent Road Public School. Nov 2005.
Looking south along Herring Rd at Agincourt Rd. The reservation cuts diagonally across Herring Rd, just north of Agincourt Rd. Nov 2005.
Looking north from Abuklea Road. Nov 2005.
Looking northeast along Woorang St - a suburban street that would be converted into a six-lane divided highway if the ECR was ever to be built. It appears that land on the southeastern side of the street would be resumed - judging by the way the houses are set back. Nov 2005.
Looking east from Orange Street. Nov 2005.
Looking east from Welby Street/Pickford Ave/Graham Ave intersection. Nov 2005.
Looking west along Welby Street, which is pretty narrow as far as suburban streets go. Extensive property resumption would be required (from the north side of the street if I remember correctly) to build the road. Nov 2005.
Looking west at the end of Welby Street. The ECR reservation goes straight through that white house to reach Blaxland Road. Nov 2005.
Looking south from Rowe St at Eastwood. To the left is Blaxland Rd and to the right is Ryedale Rd - prior to the extension of First Ave in the late 1970s this intersection is where Eastwood traffic would join Blaxland Rd. Nov 2005.
Looking west from Blaxland Rd along First Ave. The trees mark the ECR reservation along the northern side of First Ave. Nov 2005.
Looking west along First Ave approaching the railway bridge. Note how the road pavement widens to six lanes to cross the bridge - the only section of the ECR to have been constructed to its ultimate width. Nov 2005.
The railway overpass at Eastwood, as viewed from West Pde. Nov 2005.
Looking west along Rutledge Street to Shaftsbury Rd at Eastwood. This section of the ECR is very narrow and, whilst I know that 4m of the corridor lay within the boundaries of Eastwood Public School I'm not sure where the remainder of the land will come from. Nov 2005.
Rutledge Street looking west near Wentworth Rd. Its a little hard to make out from this picture but a wide strip of land on the northern side of the road has been set aside for the ECR - all recent houses have been set back while the 1930s houses remain right next to the road. Nov 2005.
Looking north along Brush Rd. Nov 2005.
Looking west along Lawson Street approaching Marsden Rd. Nov 2005.
ECR corridor looking east into Brush Farm Park from Winbourne St. Nov 2005.
Looking west along Rutledge St from Winbourne St. Note the land on the south side of Rutledge St which is part of the ECR reservation. Nov 2005.
Roads that currently take ECR traffic between Eastwood and North Ryde (Blaxland Rd, Balaclava Rd, Lovell Rd etc.)
Blaxland Rd (Main Road No. 139) looking south from Lansdowne Street, Eastwood. This ~500m section of Blaxland Rd is regularly congested as it forms a dog-leg for the North Ryde-Parramatta trips as well as serving trips to and from the north west. Nov 2005.
Balaclava Rd (Secondary Road No. 2024) looking north from Alexandria Ave. This is the best section of Balaclava Road as it narrows to two lanes and has two very annoying roundabouts closer to Epping Rd. Nov 2005.
Looking northeast along Balaclava Rd from the Fiveways intersection (North Rd/Corunna Rd/Hunts Ave). The two roundabouts in the distance are at Abuklea Rd and Agincourt Rd. Nov 2005.

1. Ryde Municipal Council; ‘Submission to the Commissioner for Main Roads by a Deputation from Ryde Municipal Council on Thursday 18 June 1970 ’
2. ‘Democrat Suggests Alternative for Brush Park road’ in Northern Standard 20/1/1982
3. Democrat Suggests Alternative for Brush Park road’ in Northern Standard 20/1/1982
4. ‘Vital Road Go-Ahead’ by Dan Morgan in Northern District Times 1/8/1984
5. ‘A Freeway As Well?’ in Northern Standard 22/11/1984
6. Department of Main Roads; ‘Rutledge Street Route Environmental Impact Statement Draft’ [unpublished]; July 1985
7. Roads and Traffic Authority; ‘Eastwood to North Ryde Link Environmental Overview Report’; March 1995; p.6
8. Roads and Traffic Authority; ‘Eastwood to North Ryde Link Environmental Overview Report’; March 1995; p.6
9. Roads and Traffic Authority; ‘ County Road Environmental Impact Review’; August 1990
10. Roads and Traffic Authority; ‘Eastwood to North Ryde Link Environmental Overview Report’; March 1995; p.6
11.‘Bulldozers moving on 40 homes and school’ by Sean Burke in Northern District Times 8/3/1999
12. ‘Bulldozers moving on 40 homes and school’ by Sean Burke in Northern District Times 8/3/1999
13. ‘Freeway top of the list’ in Northern District Times 18/7/1990
14. Roads and Traffic Authority; ‘ Eastwood County Road Traffic Study’; September 1990
15. Roads and Traffic Authority; ‘ Eastwood County Road Options Study Final Report’; September 1999; p. E6
16. ‘Link report “insult to our intelligence”: Councils’ stalemate on road’ by Monique Cowper in Northern District Times 17/11/1999

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