East West Link developer to foot cost of protest delays

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Herald Sun: East West Link developer to foot cost of protest delays, Matt Johnston, September 9, 2014

The cost of any East West Link construction delays caused by protests would be absorbed by the consortium that builds the toll road.

In a move to avoid extra taxpayer-funded bills outside the planned project’s hefty $6-8 billion budget, the contract winner would be responsible for security on worksites.

Any extra construction costs or costs of delays associated with demonstrations would be the builder’s responsibility, giving it an added ­incentive to deliver the project on time.

The East West Connect group has been announced as the State Government’s preferred bidder to build the controversial road to connect the Eastern Freeway to CityLink in Parkville.

The news led to anti-tunnel groups declaring they would protest this morning outside the Melbourne office of Lend Lease — one of the companies in the consortium.

The last time there was a rally at Lend Lease it led to ­violent clashes with police.

East West Connect, which has built Peninsula Link and major overseas projects, such as the Port of Miami Tunnel, also includes infrastructure ­giants Capella Capital, ­Acciona Infrastructure and the Bouygues group.

Treasurer Michael O’Brien said the Government would exclusively negotiate with the group in the final stage of the tender process, and he hoped to sign a contract by October.

“We expect to see construction of East West Link commence this year. It will be great for jobs — we expect 3200 jobs to be created,” he said.

He dismissed potential protest action and said police would “uphold the rule of law”.

“There is a legal right to protest, but that protest right does not enable you to interfere with other people going to work,” he said.

Anti-tunnel groups immediately attacked the Government’s announcement and organised a protest.

The Public Transport Users’ Association was also critical, and community campaign spokeswoman Cait Jones said the project should be on hold until legal action was resolved.

matthew.johnston@news.com.au

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