‘Missing link’ in freeway network tops RACV election wishlist

The Age: ‘Missing link’ in freeway network tops RACV election wishlist. Adam Carey, Transport Reporter for The Age. 18 August 2014

Political parties vying for power in November’s state election must commit to building the “missing link” between the Metropolitan Ring Road and the Eastern Freeway if they want the backing of the RACV, the motoring group says.

The RACV will on Tuesday release a state election report card judging the Coalition, Labor and the Greens for their respective stances on more than 30 transport projects. A copy of the report card has been given to Fairfax Media.

“We are keen to make sure we have a clear understanding of your party’s positions in regard to the key issues that RACV will be pursuing on behalf of our 2.1 million members,” a letter to each of the leaders of the four main political parties states.

The North East Link headlines the group’s wish list, which calls on the parties to “commit to and announce the route and timing for the Metropolitan Ring Road completion from Greensborough to the Eastern Freeway and EastLink”.

The link’s cost has been estimated at $6 billion. It is currently not a commitment of any major political party.

RACV public policy general manager Brian Negus said the 2014 election would “absolutely” be fought on transport issues and governments needed to be more innovative in finding ways to deliver the major transport projects the state needs to solve its congestion problems.

“We’re calling for a new and much more innovative transport investment strategy at both a federal and state level because we’ve long said that you can’t deliver the sort of transport projects that are needed on the drip feed of a yearly budget,” Mr Negus said.

The report card names the first stage of the East West Link between Collingwood and CityLink as the second biggest transport priority, followed by stage two between CityLink and the Western Ring Road. It calls for construction to have started on both stages within two years, aligning the RACV’s position with the Napthine goverment’s stated commitment to the $18 billion road project. Labor opposes the East West Link but will build it if contracts are signed.

Victoria’s biggest public transport project, a new rail tunnel through the city centre, is listed at number five on the RACV’s priority list, one place below the $850 million widening of CityLink and the Tullamarine Freeway, a project that was also announced this year by the Napthine government in partnership with Transurban, CityLink’s owner.

Parties should commit to completing the road widening project “within the term”, the report card states. No date is listed for the completion of the multibillion-dollar rail link, which the government says it will build by 2026, with two news stops including one at the planned new high-rise suburb of Fishermans Bend. Labor has also committed to building the rail link but along the originally proposed route beneath Swanston Street, with five new stations instead of two.

Mr Negus said the RACV report card struck a balance between investment in roads and public transport.

“You can’t solve congestion by roads alone nor by public transport alone, it’s very much about an integrated and balanced plan,” he said.

But Greens leader Greg Barber accused the motoring group of ignoring the growing mood among the public for increased investment in public transport.

“Not satisfied with one giant polluting road tunnel, the RACV now want to spend billions more, to dig up the Yarra flats at Heidelberg. It’s top of their list, but if they asked their members, investment in public transport would come before roads,” Mr Barber said.

Herald Sun/Galaxy Poll reveals airport rail link our top priority

Herald Sun/Galaxy Poll reveals airport rail link our top priority. 2 March 2014

A rail link to the airport should be a higher priority than other major infrastructure projects, according to 34 per cent of voters in a Herald Sun/Galaxy Poll. Source: News Limited

Victorians want a rail line to the airport ahead of a new rail tunnel through inner ­Melbourne or the East West Link, a Herald Sun/Galaxy Poll has found.
More than one-third of voters surveyed in the poll said a city to airport rail link should be a higher priority than other major infrastructure projects promised by the Government and State Opposition.

Those surveyed were able to nominate what they thought was the most important project out of the airport link, the Metro rail capacity project that will link northwest Melbourne to South Yarra, getting rid of 50 of the worst rail crossings, or the East West Link from Sunshine to the Eastern Freeway.

While 34 per cent said the airport project was number one, 30 per cent nominated Labor’s big transport promise – getting rid of 50 dangerous level crossings – as the highest priority project.
The Coalition Government’s big ticket infrastructure project, the East West Link, came in next, tied with building the Metro rail tunnel.

Both Labor and Coalition supporters chose the airport rail link above any other project as the most important transport need.

Public transport users association president Tony Morton said removing the level crossings would have wide benefits across the whole of Melbourne, while the airport link had substantial community support and was long overdue.

“If it’s what’s going to have the most day-to-day benefit, it’s probably the level crossings,” Mr Morton said.

“If it’s about economic impact and business importance to the state, it’s likely to be the airport link.”

Mr Morton said all options were ultimately hypothetical until the government committed to build one.

“We have to see the money on the table before we have any real debate on this

“It’s going to take more than one big project announcement to get things back on track; we’ve largely wasted the last three years not starting any projects,” he said.

RACV public policy manager Brian Negus said transport would be a crucial issue at November’s state election.

“Congestion already costs the state economy $3 billion per year, with this cost set to increase to $6 billion per year by 2020,” Mr Negus said.

He said the RACV wanted a pipeline of projects to combat congestion and support economic growth.

The completion of the Metropolitan Ring Road was at the top of the RACV’s priority list.

michelle.ainsworth@news.com.au
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POLL RESULT: Which one of these projects do you think the state government should give the highest priority?
Building a city-airport rail link: 34%
Removing Victoria’s worst 50 level crossings: 30%
Building the East West Link between Sunshine and the Eastern Freeway: 15%
Building a Melbourne Metro rail tunnel: 15%
Uncommitted: 6%

THE BIG PROJECTS – WHERE THE PARTIES STAND

City-airport rail link
LABOR: Not viewed as a priority after it was taken off the Brumby Government’s agenda in 2010. Says it will not build an Airport rail link before Melbourne Metro.
COALITION: Has promised to build an airport rail link. Likely to be included in plans for the Metro Rail Capacity Project that wouldn’t start construction until later this decade.

The East West Link
LABOR: Does not support the project but says it will not rip up contracts for Stage One (from the Eastern Fwy to CityLink in Parkville) if signed before the November election.

COALITION: Wants to build the full 18km link from the Eastern Fwy to the Western Ring Rd. Has promised to start Stage One, which will cost $6-8 billion and connect the Eastern Fwy to CityLink in Parkville, this year.

Removing Victoria’s worst 50 level crossings
LABOR: If elected promises to remove the 50 worst level crossings within eight years, based on the RACV’s priority list

COALITION: Committed to remove 11 level crossings within the next few years as part of a $419 million blitz, with several finished or under construction. Likely to promise more before November’s election.

Melbourne Metro
LABOR: Promises to allocate $300 million for the rail tunnel in its first Budget, if elected in November. Committed to the project to link South Yarra to Kensington, which it says will double the size of the City Loop.

COALITION: Promises to build the tunnel towards the end of the decade”, and has allocated almost $50 million for planning. Is looking at varying the proposed route to avoid ripping up Swanston St, and may include capacity for a rail link to the airport.

East West Link funding to ease jobs pain

Herald Sun: East West Link funding to ease jobs pain. Phillip Hudson. Matt Johnton. 19 February 2014

PM Tony Abbott and Victorian Premier Denis Napthine meet to discuss the East West Link project. Picture: Sarah Matray Source: News Corp Australia

THE Abbott Government is considering federal funding to help build stage two of the East West Link as part of its jobs package for Victoria.

No decisions have been made by Cabinet but the ­contribution could be at least $1.5 billion.

Tony ­Abbott, who has ­already pledged $1.5 billion for stage one of the $14 billion project, described stage two as being “really important” for ­Melbourne and Geelong.

On a visit to Melbourne, the PM lauded the project and praised Premier Denis Napthine for accelerating preparatory work, saying the public wanted to see work start and not more feasibility studies.

The two leaders had their second face-to-face meeting within a week as Dr Napthine pushed for the Commonwealth to fast-track infrastructure money for the state.

Mr Abbott said he would be getting a report at the end of the month about how to help Victoria after Ford, Holden and Toyota said they would stop making cars and Alcoa said it would shut the Point Henry aluminium smelter.

On Wednesday it was revealed Telstra will sack Victorian staff in a nationwide cull of 800 from its Sensis business, which controls the white and yellow pages.

Two-thirds of the jobs are going to the Philippines.

On Wednesday night there were ­reports Shell was close to selling its Geelong refinery, but it was ­unclear what that means for its 450 workers.

A decision about East West stage two might have to wait until the May Budget, but Mr Abbott plans to announce some projects for Victoria in “early March”.

“We want to ensure that the people of Victoria can face the future with confidence,” Mr Abbott said.

The second stage of the toll road, to connect CityLink to the Western Ring Rd, would enable commuters and hauliers to bypass the city when travelling from east to west.

A contract for the first stage, connecting the Eastern Freeway to CityLink in Parkville, is due to be signed within months, with the Napthine Government hoping construction will begin later this year.

“The great thing about this particular project is that it’s really important for Melbourne and for Geelong, because just about everyone coming to Melbourne from Geelong is going to benefit from the full East West Link,” the PM said.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on Wednesday visited the Williamstown shipbuilding yard, where he called on the Abbott Government to bring forward plans to build ships to protect 1100 jobs.

phillip.hudson@news.com.au

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