NORTHERN suburbs residents are warned to prepare themselves ahead of the 2022 UCI Road World Championships in Wollongong next month.
Residents are being encouraged to plan ahead with significant road closures and changes to on-street parking conditions – especially in the north.
Residents have raised concern over the temporary closure of main service roads during the road cycling championship with social media erupting with accusations of a lack of consultation from organisers.
During the course of the event, the entire length of Lawrence Hargrave Drive, between Helensburgh and Bulli, and parts of the Princes Highway – including Bulli Pass – will be temporarily closed to traffic.
Transport for NSW will establish ‘Special Event Clearways’ on public roads to accommodate the event between Saturday September 17 and Sunday September 25.
Vehicles that do not comply with the clearways will be towed to the nearest available parking space and a fee will apply. Residents are urged to check signs carefully before parking on streets on the day or the night before races.
Lawrence Hargrave Drive between Helensburgh and Bulli will be closed to traffic on Saturday September 24 from 11am to 2pm, and Sunday September 25 from 8.45am to 11.30am.
Walker Street, Helensburgh will also close to traffic on the same days and times.
The championship also means the closure of the Princes Highway from the top of Bulli Pass to Park Road, Bulli, where cyclists will travel down Park Road to the beach at Trinity Row and onto Woonona. Theses roads will also be closed to traffic in both directions on Saturday September 24 from 11am to 2pm, and Sunday September 25 from 8.45am to 11.30am.
From Woonona, the championship will mean the closure of Carrington Street, Kulgoa Street, Park Road, Railway Parade and Pioneer Drive.
Further road closures will be required along Pioneer Drive at Bellambi and East Corrimal before the championship makes its way along Carters Lane, and onto Fairy Meadow, where major roads like Cabbage Tree Lane, Elliotts Road and the Princes Highway will be closed to vehicles.
Social media has erupted with criticism of the road closures and the impact to residents.
“I don’t recall any community consultation relating to the race routes, road closures or residents and businesses being disadvantaged,” Michael posted to the Woonona Bulli Community Facebook Group.
Shawn posted: “Yes and no consultation about impact to business from road closures. They say just suck it up and sort yourself out we are in control… Not against sport events but the management and lack of consultation is not reasonable or bringing the community with you…”
“The council sent out letters last month and are sending more as more details are planned. Down near the beach it’s always nearly impossible to get out of here when other rides are on, so this’ll be interesting. Might be a good time to go away,” wrote Elisabeth.
Steve posted: “F#@k this bike race, do it some where else like Dubbo in the bush where it won’t affect us. And all this bulls#@t about how it’s good for us who live here… What a load of sh#@t!!”
However, not all feedback was negative. Lauren posted: “The whole point of all of this is to forewarn us so we can plan ahead. It’s a huge coup for our area and will boost our economy immensely. I lived in Sydney during the Sydney Olympics, and even though I was only 12, I will never forget it. Yes, there were disruptions. But you know what? It was AMAZING. The whole city was pumped. Everyone was so happy, getting involved, enjoying the spirit of the whole event. Maybe we could all try and do the same?”
Transport for NSW spokesman Roger Weeks said being informed and planning ahead will be vital as the city’s road network will not operate as it usually does.
“Transport for NSW is working closely with Wollongong City Council, the Wollongong 2022 local organising committee and government agencies to make changes to the road network to facilitate the nine days of training and racing and ensure the safety of everyone,” Mr Weeks said.
“It is important to understand there will be no parking allowed along any part of the race routes on competition and training days over the course of the event.
“We ask the community to get familiar with their local road closures and parking restrictions, to plan ahead and to make alternate arrangements where required.”
Special Event Clearway parking restrictions will be in effect along state and local roads used for the race, and some surrounding roads at various times during the event period for the safety of participants, spectators and the community.
During the event, community and visitors will find real-time updates via livetraffic.com or the Live Traffic NSW app.
The M1, Memorial Drive and Princes Highway (except for a section in Fairy Meadow and North Wollongong) will operate as usual throughout the week.
Towradgi Road and Balgownie Road will be permanently open and serve as connectors to Mt Ousley, Fairy Meadow, Towradgi and Balgownie.
Lawrence Hargrave Drive will be open Sunday 18 to Friday 23 September.
Not all roads are impacted, and some major arterial roads will be open but drivers should allow for congestion and extra travel time.
Emergency services are involved in event planning and will have priority access to all areas of the city at all times.
Transport for NSW will provide increased train services on the Illawarra and South Coast line during the UCI event to support travel to and from Wollongong.
Wollongong City Council General Manager Greg Doyle said he understands the event period will present challenges to residents with road closures, parking availability and clearways.
“Hosting an event of this size and calibre will bring disruption that is unfamiliar to our city. We recognise these changes will present challenges to our residents when moving about the city and suburbs,’’ he said.
“Transport for NSW, Wollongong City Council and Wollongong 2022 have been planning this event for over two years to ensure that safety of our residents, visitors and cyclists is paramount during event time.
“Not all roads are impacted, and some major arterial roads, such as the M1 and Memorial Drive, will be open, but drivers should allow for congestion and extra travel time. Now is the time to plan ahead and we encourage people to explore alternative modes of transport during this week such as car-pooling, active transport or train and bus services to get around our city.’’
Mr Doyle said that despite the city operating differently during event time, many across the city are preparing to welcome the world to Wollongong.
“It’s been amazing to see the excitement brewing across our city for this top international sporting event that will put Wollongong on the global map for years to come. Lots of people are planning around the disruptions to get involved in the Championship festivities and welcome visitors to our beautiful city,” Mr Doyle said.
Wollongong 2022 CEO Stu Taggart said organisers have been working closely with NSW Health, the Department of Education, Home Care Services and other service providers in the community to support residents during race time.
“An event of this scale calls for a lot of planning and collaboration and we’re incredibly grateful for the support of the community and our event partners to prepare for event time,” Mr Taggart said.
“In planning the race routes, we have been mindful of community impact during the event period and we have worked hard to ensure Memorial Drive and the M1 are accessible as well as preserving access to as much of Princes Highway as possible.”
Residents should expect detailed information in letterboxes about event road closures this week. This will include important information and guides, including an event week checklist for households to prepare for the impacts.
Interactive maps allow the community to pinpoint which road closures and clearways will affect them and allow them to make alternative transport arrangements. Detailed information and maps are available at wollongong2022.com.au/community.
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