It comes as the state government works with local councils to revitalise retail strips along the busy main thoroughfare that slices through Mosman, Cremorne and Neutral Bay.
The massive project, which is set to reduce traffic on the notoriously clogged Military Road corridor by 10 per cent, is used by an estimated 69,500 vehicles per day and considered the seventh busiest road corridor in NSW.
Ms Osaki, who owns L’eclaire Patisserie in Mosman, said reducing the number of cars on Military Road would make it easier for her customers – about half of whom live outside the area – to come into the store.
“It’s busy from 6.30am to 7pm. A lot of customers complain because they come to pick up cakes and they get stuck in traffic and they can’t find parking. I have to tell them beforehand they need to allow extra time.”
Mosman Business Chamber president Pat Purcell said the Military Road corridor’s “busyness makes it vibrant and that’s a plus”.
“Less traffic would make it easier for locals to shop. On the other hand, the Beaches Link could bring more people to our area from outer suburbs.”
A Transport for NSW spokesman said moving heavy traffic from Military Road into the 7.2 kilometre tunnel would “help improve the amenity of local town centres including Mosman, Cremorne and Neutral Bay”.
“The project will bust congestion and slash travel times, making journeys more reliable for motorists and public transport users both underground and on the surface, and reduce ‘rat running’ through local neighbourhoods.”
But Labor’s Roads spokesman John Graham said the government had a similar justification for the WestConnex motorway project, which was partly aimed at easing traffic congestion along much-maligned Parramatta Road.
“This government promised Parramatta Road would be transformed into a Parisian-style boulevard. Instead, we are left with kilometres of congestion flanked by shops for lease.”
Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes, who is the local member for Pittwater, said the Beaches Link would “definitely have an impact” on traffic volumes along Military Road.
“They are the claims that Transport [for NSW] have made, and they will be assessed and it will be up to the community as well to talk about what they see as the opportunities and constraints along that corridor,” he said.
“Land uses are already fairly fragmented along there so it’ll be challenging. In one sense, there are some similar challenges to Parramatta Road, in another sense it is quite different.”
Mr Stokes said part of the vision that Transport for NSW had for the precinct was that rather than Military Road “dividing the community”, it could become “something that joins it together” with more accessible streets.
Transport for NSW said it was working with local councils “to develop a strategy and road network plan for the Military Road corridor, which could help unlock the potential for urban renewal opportunities”.
Megan Gorrey is the Urban Affairs reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald.