Transport for NSW has rejected community calls to place the next stage of the Sutherland to Cronulla Active Transport Link (SCATL) within the rail corridor.
Instead, the route of the shared cycle-pedestrian path from Oak Road, Kirrawee to Gannons Road, Caringbah will run next to Kingsway and other busy roads, crossing numerous intersections and hundreds of driveways.
The original route, unveiled in 2015 by Transport Minister Andrew Constance, had the path in the rail corridor between Kirrawee and Caringbah.
Stage one from Sutherland to Kirrawee, which opened in April 2020, follows President Avenue.
The route for stage two has been confirmed in a Transport for NSW report on community consultation, which took place earlier this year.
The report also confirmed stage two would end at Gannons Road, Caringbah, linking with an existing path along Captain Cook Drive, instead of proceeding directly to Cronulla town centre.
"Transport for NSW will continue to work with Sutherland Shire Council, key stakeholders and the community to progress additional connections," the authority said.
A spokesman for the authority said the chosen route from Kirrawee to Caringbah would "provide more direct links to local facilities and better connectivity into the existing cycling network for one of the most active and athletic communities in all of Sydney".
Sutherland Shire Environment Centre, which advocated for a return to the original proposed route, said "shire residents are being short-changed".
"This route has been condemned by residents - people say they won't use it," the centre said, urging people to sign a petition on its Facebook page or write to their MP asking they "uphold their promise to build the safe route alongside the rail corridor"
Cronulla MP and Attorney-General Mark Speakman, who has led the political push for the project, said he appreciated the extensive work undertaken by Transport for NSW to progress the important active transport link.
"While I have come to accept that it is not feasible to have most of the route within the rail corridor, I have asked that some alternatives to the exhibited route be considered before a final route is adopted," he said.
"I have studied the exhibited route closely. This includes walking some of it and alternatives with Howard Collins, the Transport for NSW chief operating officer.
"I think there could be some better alternatives, especially between Kirrawee and Gymea and avoiding the Miranda CBD.
"Also, the C in SCATL is for Cronulla not Caringbah, so I will continue to push for planning and construction of the last stage from Caringbah to Cronulla."
The consultation report acknowledged "the change of the preferred route from within the rail corridor to outside the rail corridor was unexpected for some community members and stakeholders".
"We recognise that there is still a strong desire from the community to construct the active transport link within the rail corridor," the report said.
"Until this time, the community envisioned a safe, direct path which would make use of under utilised space in the rail corridor, to provide a 'spine' between Sutherland and Cronulla.
"While the rail corridor provides a direct link between Sutherland to Cronulla, the inclusion of active transport infrastructure within this corridor turned out to not be a feasible option.
"It was significantly more complex and costly and was inferior in meeting some key project objectives, for example less connections to schools, shops, TAFEs, hospitals, less accessibility and permeability, less visibility and security, significantly more expensive and less suited to users of all abilities."
The report said other issues with the rail corridor option included longer and more complicated construction, higher maintenance costs, path closure during railway work, parking loss around stations, impacts on existing mature trees and significant utility relocations.
"Alternatives within the rail corridor are not feasible and, therefore, this is no longer an option being considered," the report said.
The report said detailed design had commenced for the proposed option and there would be further consultation when a Review of Environmental Factors went on display.
View the consultation report: https://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/projects/current-projects/sutherland-to-cronulla-active-transport-link
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