The Age: East West Link buys time, but won’t solve traffic woes, says authority. March 28, 2014, Adam Carey, Transport Reporter for The Age
The authority for the East West Link says traffic on Alexandra Parade will have returned to today’s heavily congested levels by 2031, but that traffic on the road would be more than 10 per cent busier than it is today if the road tunnel is not built.
The Linking Melbourne Authority released revised traffic estimates for the East West Link on Thursday, at the request of the planning panel that is assessing the first stage of the multibillion-dollar project, a six-kilometre road connecting the Eastern Freeway and CityLink that is due to open in 2019.
The admission by the authority that traffic relief along one of Melbourne’s most notoriously jammed roads will evaporate within 12 years prompted planning panel member Des Grogan to question how the Napthine government could keep its promise to ease north-south traffic and tram flows across Alexandra Parade. ”I can’t see how having 72,000 vehicles a day, which is in the mid range of what we have now, is going to free up north-south movements,” Mr Grogan said.
The revised modelling indicates Alexandra Parade will be used by an average 72,000 vehicles each weekday in 2031, a level that is almost identical to a vehicle count by VicRoads in May last year, which recorded an average 71,665 vehicles each weekday.
Stuart Morris, QC, who is acting for the Linking Melbourne Authority, told the panel that without the new road traffic volumes on Alexandra Parade would soar in future.
”Without East West Link, Alexandra Parade would have approximately 88,000 vehicles per day,” he said. ”The model will not leave it having substantially less traffic than today but will leave it in 2031 with substantially less traffic than it would without the East West Link, and that we say is the relative comparator because we’re not going to live in 2013 forever.”
Mr Morris also cautioned the panel that the traffic figures were ”modelled outputs, not precise estimates of what will happen in 2031”.
Last month, Premier Denis Napthine highlighted that the East West Link tunnel would remove up to 30 per cent of traffic each day from Alexandra Parade.
”This will create a real difference for the 80,000 tram and 20,000 bus passengers travelling on north-south routes that cross Alexandra Parade, Victoria Parade and Brunswick Road each day and are routinely held up by traffic lights and slow-moving traffic,” Dr Napthine said.
Shadow roads minister Luke Donnellan said the revised modelling showed the government was ”on a road to nowhere with the east-west tunnel”.
He said $6 billion to $8 billion would be spent ”and congestion will be no better at best, or worse in 12 years’ time on Alexandra Parade … Mr Napthine’s congestion busting tunnel is bust.”