The Age: Port of Melbourne calls for changes to east-west link plans. January 3, 2014. Adam Carey Transport Reporter for The Age
The Port of Melbourne. Photo: Craig Abraham
The Port of Melbourne Corporation has asked the Napthine government to change its plans for part of the east-west link, fearing the toll road will create traffic bottlenecks near the port as freight trucks and cars converge in their thousands at the link’s western end.
It also predicts the east-west link will trigger a boom in truck traffic in Melbourne’s inner west when it opens, intensifying conflict between residents, councils and the freight industry and building political pressure to restrict truck access to local roads.
And it identifies what it says is a serious flaw in the design of the east-west link port connection – a four-lane elevated road planned to run parallel to CityLink for three kilometres but without any direct connection between the two.
In a submission to the planning panel that is considering the $6-$8 billion road project, the Port of Melbourne Corporation supports the link’s completion, but reveals it has serious doubts about the planned port connection between the tunnel opening in Royal Park and Footscray Road.
The submission states the current design for the link could generate ”increased congestion” during peak hours on Footscray Road, the main access route to the port and a major arterial to the western suburbs. ”The east-west link port connection is forecast to carry 10,000 to 20,000 vehicles a day by 2031, with most of those unlikely to be related to the port,” the submission states. ”These vehicles will add to congestion on arterial roads in the port environs, particularly at Shepherd Bridge and on Whitehall Street and other roads in the inner western suburbs.”
The growth in truck traffic ”is likely to increase community and local council pressure on VicRoads to extend the curfews to other roads in the inner west such as Moore Street, and extend the hours to which they apply”, the submission states, arguing any extension of existing truck curfews would damage the port’s productivity.
Night-time truck curfews have been put in place on several roads in Melbourne’s inner west in response to residents’ concerns about excessive noise.
Maribyrnong Truck Action Group spokesman Peter Knight said it was ”surprising and disappointing the port would, as an opening gambit, express opposition to any increases in curfew hours”.
”If you have curfews on Moore Street and Buckley Street and other streets then trucks will find other ways to go and the most efficient way is CityLink,” Mr Knight said.
The port has also called for better access to CityLink, arguing ”it would be beneficial, from a time and congestion perspective”, if the east-west link port connection also connected to CityLink.
Labor’s deputy leader, James Merlino, said Labor would build off-ramps that would remove 5000 trucks a day from the West Gate Freeway.
But Roads Minister Terry Mulder said Footscray Road would not become congested.