Today I announced that work has commenced on a 2.4km underground stormwater drain to reduce flooding in Green Square during torrential rain events.
The torrential storms in April were a graphic reminder of how vital this trunk drain is to make this area a great place for thousands of people to live and work safely. The drain will allow us to safely develop the Green Square town centre - our major new residential, retail and cultural hub.
While this urban renewal area was announced as far back as 1996, when I was first elected as Lord Mayor in 2004 the project was virtually moribund. The City took the lead and reviewed planning and financing.
The complexities and challenges were extraordinary - the land in the Town Centre was in 18 different lots of ownership, split between state and local government and private land owners, and the land was heavily contaminated from former industrial uses. There was no funding allocated for essential infrastructure.
Flooding in particular was a fundamental problem preventing the area's renewal. In numerous meetings over years I told successive Ministers that this drainage project was a critical linchpin to providing thousands of new homes and jobs in the area. Agreement was finally reached in 2014 and development is underway.
Although storm water is a Sydney Water responsibility, the City is funding more than half of the the trunk drainage - putting in 53 per cent of the total cost - to ensure the project goes ahead.
The tunnel route, from Link Road to Alexandra Canal, was chosen to minimise impact on residents, businesses and the environment. Most of this route runs through, or under, property owned by the City of Sydney and on Sydney Water land between Maddox Street and Alexandra Canal.
Construction of the drain will begin in mid-2015 and is expected to be finished by the end of 2017.
We're using a microtunnelling machine to install pipes underground without disturbing the surface. The machine digs an underground tunnel into which concrete pipes 2.15 metres in diameter are installed. Pits are constructed at either end of each section to launch and retrieve the machine.
Tunnelling machines are traditionally given a name and the Green Square machine has been named "Mary Veronica" in recognition of Mary Veronica Neilson. Mrs Neilson was the area's first female alderman (1945 - 1948) and first female Mayor (1946 and 1947) when she served on Waterloo Municipal Council.
Developing Green Square
This area was once Sydney's industrial heartland, but now a lot of the industry has left and new jobs and residents are moving in and making this our fastest growing village. That's why it's important we flood-proof the area.
At a cost of more than $90 million, this project is a key component of the City's $440 million transformation plan for new infrastructure and community facilities to ensure Green Square neighbourhood is a great place to live, work and enjoy.
While this drain will solve one of our problems, we need the NSW Government to urgently increase its investment in high-growth areas like Green Square, so essential infrastructure such as public transport, schools and child care keep up with growth.