The Age: Letters – Yet another crazy government initiative. August 12, 2014
Illustration: Ron Tandberg.
On June 16, 2008, I had a letter published in which I described the desalination plant as “the craziest government initiative of my lifetime”. Unfortunately the East West Link tops that by a long way. It beggars belief how a government can contemplate spending $18 billion on a project of such dubious benefit when public transport and health, particularly, are struggling. For 20 years I have provided a medical specialist outreach service to some northern Victorian hospitals. One of them (Cohuna) will probably have to close its operating theatre for 16 weeks of the year because of funding cuts, with pathology services in the region also to be withdrawn. These hospitals are crucial to the wellbeing of their communities, which cannot rely on an overstretched ambulance service, to say nothing of the patients’ understandable reluctance to be treated far from home. Please, Dr Napthine, restore health services before jumping into this crazy project.
Dr Graeme Dennerstein, Essendon
Display of contempt for local communities
Last Friday would have proved traumatic for numbers of Collingwood residents. They were served with letters giving notice, on the orders of the state government, that their properties are to be acquired compulsorily for the East West Link tunnel. The planning panel recommended to the Planning Minister that the Hoddle Street road interchange needed no special treatment. He ignored the advice, opting instead for a huge, showy, architectural ”gateway” to the city, necessitating demolition of heritage houses and the clearance of a long-settled community. These notices exhibit a remarkable display of contempt for the community given contracts have not been signed; the project’s future is still unclear; and construction will not begin for five years. Some residents, for instance those in their 90s, may not survive being evicted from their homes.
Julianne Bell, Protectors of Public Lands Victoria, Parkville
Most expensive road in the nation
The detailed analysis by Michael West (”Light shed on the cloudy costs of roads”, 11/8) demonstrates that this road is the most expensive in Australia by a substantial margin, costing $1 billion per kilometre. The work of actuary Ian Bell is as close as Victorians are likely to get to the secret business case. Adjusted to a “four lane equivalent” basis, the link is 15 per cent more expensive than the financially disastrous Brisbane Airport Link. The Melbourne road has less tunnelling but a higher price tag and more impact on the inner city. The initial traffic levels remain secret and the time savings are exaggerated. The financial risks to the bidders are very high and they should think twice before joining the government in its irrational dash to the finish line.
Andrew Herington, Caulfield North
Transport projects will suffer for decades
The Boroondara Bicycle Users Group looks like a rank opportunist in its push for a trail to be constructed as part of the EWL project (”Cycling link for Melbourne’s north-east in doubt”, 11/8). Expert and public opinion has been rallying against the link because it is so detrimental for sustainable transport in Melbourne, including for bicycle riding, by drawing funds away from superior public transport and active transport projects. However, in its submission to the assessment committee the group declared it ”does not have a position on the construction of the East West Link”, while it pitched for a bicycle trail along the Eastern Freeway reservation from Chandler Highway to Alexandra Parade as part of the project. Road authorities and operators are well known for dollying up their green credentials by promoting bicycle trails along freeway reservations, but interestingly, it appears this is not to happen here.
Ian Hundley, North Balwyn