The Age: Chandler Highway bridge motorists to earn better run after state election. August 20, 2014, Richard Willingham, State Political Correspondent for The Age
Traffic congestion at one of Melbourne’s worst bottlenecks, the Chandler Highway bridge, is expected to ease regardless of who wins the November state election.
In June Labor pledged a $110 million duplication of the bridge over the Yarra River in Alphington as well as upgrades to the entire road if it wins office. It was planning to fix the road before it was voted out in 2010.
The Coalition government has now confirmed that it is “completing detailed planning for a future upgrade of the Chandler Highway”, including land a the former Amcor papermill site.
The government said VicRoads had been in discussions with the City of Yarra and the Metropolitan Planning Authority about the development of the former Amcor site next to the road.
VicRoads has planned for an upgrade for several years. At least four different options for a new bridge have been floated, including extra lanes on both sides of the current two-lane bridge. Plans for a bridge on the eastern side would require land from the old Amcor paper mill site, which has been sold to developers.
It is understood VicRoads told the developers some months ago that it wanted acquire some land for the project.
Guy Nelson, from the developer Alpha Partners, welcomed the move to improve traffic and said the group had been waiting to see how much land VicRoads wanted for the project.
Labor’s local MP Fiona Richardson has campaigned for an upgrade of the road, which has been ranked among the worst bottlenecks in Melbourne by the RACV.
Ms Richardson suspects the government is now upgrading the road to attract more traffic onto the East West tunnel.
“Neither the Greens party nor the Liberals have ever understood the importance of this project to the community and both have stood in the way of getting it fixed,” Ms Richardson said.
“Fixing the bridge will no doubt improve congestion, but it will also improve safety, particularly for cyclists and pedestrians.”
In June, when Labor pledged to fix the road, planning minister Matthew Guy was critical, tweeting Labor were “short sighted fools” for promising to build the road while opposing East West Link; saying without the tunnel congestion would get worse.
Minister for Roads Terry Mulder said even with improvements to the Chandler Highway, drivers would continue to face massive delays and congestion on the Eastern Freeway and surrounding roads if the East West Link was not built.
“Labor secretly knows the East West Link is a higher priority, which is why their Victorian transport plan said the Chandler Highway was a longer term need.”
Greens Northcote candidate Trent McCarthy said the party would release its plan for the highway soon.
“All we have seen so far from Labor and Liberal is VicRoads plans, which won’t do anything to reduce congestion, particularly given they are both committed to building East West Link which will see thousands more trucks and cars use the Chandler to avoid tolls,” Mr McCarthy said.