Hoddle St study finds tunnel no solution to congestion

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From The Herald Sun: Hoddle St study finds tunnel no solution to congestion (5 May 2013)

A tunnel under Hoddle St or grade separations at key intersections will not fix congestion on the road, a VicRoads report has found.

The $5 million Hoddle St Study investigated nine options to improve the bottleneck, used by about 80,000 vehicles on weekdays.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews has called for Hoddle St to be a priority while the State Government has opted to pursue an East-West Link connecting the Eastern Freeway and Western Ring Road.

Opposition roads spokesman Luke Donnellan has previously said Labor, if elected, would transform the road into a tunnel or grade separate major intersections.

But the report said local grade separations ($3 billion), lowering Hoddle St ($5 billion) and a cut and cover tunnel ($5 billion) were “not feasible and not worth more investigation”.

It found:

GRADE separations would increase congestion on arterial and local roads during construction and have long-term land impacts along Hoddle St;

LOWERING Hoddle St would also have long-term land impacts along the road;

A CUT and cover tunnel would significantly increase congestion on the road network, utility service disruption and business impact.

The report, commissioned by the former Labor government, said full-time dynamic bus lanes ($300 million), an elevated busway ($1.5 billion) and a bus tunnel ($3 billion) were worth seeking community feedback and further investigation subject to findings of the Doncaster Rail Study, released in March.

Roads Minister Terry Mulder said the Opposition’s plans for Hoddle St were in tatters. “Claims that the Coalition’s East-West Link is ‘too extravagant’ are now laughable,” Mr Mulder said.

“Here, we have a report commissioned by the former Labor government consigning their own ill-conceived policy alternative to the East-West Link to the scrap heap.”

Mr Donnellan previously said the 18km link wouldn’t fix congestion at the end of the Eastern Freeway because most traffic coming off it went to Hoddle St through to the city and southern suburbs.

Treasurer Michael O’Brien said his first Budget tomorrow would “progress” the East-West Link and Melbourne Metro without jacking up fees.

amelia.harris@news.com.au

From The Age: Tunnel won’t fix traffic woes 26 May 2013

Hoddle Street will remain a traffic nightmare even after the Napthine government’s east-west toll road is completed, according to the Department of Transport.

A department briefing prepared for Roads Minister Terry Mulder says only a small proportion of the cars, trucks and buses clogging Hoddle Street are likely to use the tunnel as an alternative if there are no off-ramps to the city.

The finding was mirrored in a November 2011 ”Hoddle Street Study”, released under freedom of information laws. It reveals the department’s own traffic modelling found ”no expected change to the traffic operation of Hoddle Street as a result of the new link”.

Rather, it suggested the situation on Hoddle Street, already one of Melbourne’s most congested roads, would worsen. With the road already carrying more than 90,000 vehicles a day, it warned worsening congestion triggered by population growth would increasingly force vehicles onto surrounding roads as motorists searched for alternative routes, further clogging the inner north.

”As congestion increases, motorists will also choose alternative north-south routes that are not desirable from a community perspective, including routes such as Brunswick Street, Smith Street or Princess/Denmark Street where traffic will compete with pedestrians in shopping precincts or public transport along tram and bus routes or at rail crossings,” the report warns.

”If we do nothing, people will spend more time travelling on all forms of road-based transport, eroding quality of life and impacting the liveability of Melbourne.”

The report, provided to Mr Mulder in November 2011, appears to contradict claims made by the Victorian government about the impact of the $6 billion to $8 billion road project.

In its November 2011 submission to Infrastructure Australia, the government suggested that the road link would significantly benefit motorists using Hoddle Street, allowing traffic banked up along the Eastern Freeway to flow more freely.

”The east-west link … is aimed at … reducing traffic on Melbourne’s inner urban arterial roads, especially at the Hoddle Street exit on the Eastern Freeway,” the submission said.

A spokeswoman for Mr Mulder said the government had rejected the assessment that the link would not help traffic on Hoddle Street, arguing that motorists were ”diverting” down Hoddle Street to avoid being stuck on Alexandra Parade.

”The east-west link will provide a new option for cross-city travel, allowing people to traverse the north of the city in less than seven minutes, rather than having to rat-run, including Hoddle Street,” she said.

It is understood traffic volume studies undertaken as part of the confidential east-west business case are ”more robust” than the Hoddle Street study, predicting that a significant volume of traffic on the Eastern Freeway had the intention of travelling across town rather than into the city.

In contrast, the 2008 study undertaken by Sir Rod Eddington found only 15 to 20 per cent of motorists on the Eastern Freeway wanted to travel across the city.

Shadow treasurer Tim Pallas said the government was making a multibillion-dollar investment on a project that would not help commuters.

”This secret VicRoad report makes it clear that the Eastern to Tullamarine tunnel will not address congestion on the Eastern Freeway for traffic seeking to access the city, particularly at Hoddle Street,” he said.

”This secret report only serves to demonstrate that the Napthine government must publicly release its business case for the tunnel so that Victorians can appreciate both the costs and benefits of this $8 billion commitment.”

But the Hoddle Street study also poured cold water on Labor’s previous plan to build grade separations or tunnels on Hoddle Street at major intersections, finding such options would also cost billions of dollars and were ”not feasible and not worth more investigation”.

Rather, it said, full-time dynamic bus lanes, raised bus lanes, and a bus tunnel were worth investigating.

The Napthine government announced funding of almost $300 million in this month’s state budget, declaring construction of the road project would begin late next year.

And from YCAT July 16th 2012

The Hoddle Street Study findings were first posted here on YCAT  prior to the state election

http://www.ycat.org.au/?p=811

Finally, the aborted study has been released under FOI.

The Hoddle Street Study was shelved because the incoming government was elected with a commitment to Doncaster Rail, making redundant the study’s terms of reference. The study found that a bus-only tunnel to Richmond may be the best option.

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