State government announces new off-ramp for east-west link: Dumps bus lanes

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A new off-ramp will be built from the east-west link to Ormond Road, funnelling outbound traffic into Ascot Vale and Moonee Ponds in the latest expansion of the multibillion-dollar road project.

The new ramp would provide a faster and more direct link to Melbourne’s north-west suburbs, the Napthine government said on Wednesday as it unveiled several changes to the project.

Sections of CityLink will be widened by one lane in either direction by opening the emergency shoulder to general traffic.

A proposal before the government to use the shoulder as an express SkyBus lane to Melbourne Airport will not proceed.

Congestion on major roads in Melbourne’s inner north-west would be reduced by the changed east-west link design, including Mount Alexander Road, Racecourse Road, Flemington Road and Elliott Avenue, Premier Denis Napthine said. Dr Napthine described the complex intersection of those roads as one of the worst ”traffic nightmares” in Melbourne.

”Almost every driver in Melbourne has experienced the chronic congestion around this notorious intersection of major roads,” he said.

”High traffic volumes, multiple weaving movements and competing demands for traffic light priority make this area one of our worst congestion hot spots.”

Dr Napthine said the changes had been made after listening to the community.

But the state opposition said the Ormond Road off-ramp was the latest example of a project being made up on the fly by a government ”afraid to include the people of Victoria in their planning”.

”This is a design-as-you-go project from a make-it-up-as-you-go-along government, and what appears to be increasingly an interchange that is swallowing a suburb – or big enough to swallow a suburb,” opposition treasury and employment spokesman Tim Pallas said.

Roads Minister Terry Mulder said the changes were not expected to increase the cost of the $6billion-$8billion first stage of the east-west link.

He confirmed the government would not proceed with a proposal to put an express bus lane to Melbourne Airport on CityLink.

The proposed lane was intended as a ”first-stage mass transit link to the airport in advance of a rail link”.

SkyBus was designed to offer a 20-minute run between Southern Cross Station and the airport but consistently fails to do this during peak periods.

CityLink operator Transurban opposed the bus lane concept and lobbied the government to expand the toll road for general traffic, as part of negotiations known as Project Zebra.

Adam Carey, The Age, October 30, 2013 

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/state-government-announces-new-offramp-for-eastwest-link-20131030-2wfj8.html#ixzz2jFBL7DPr

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