About 250 residents have received a letter advising the east-west link road tunnel is likely to be constructed near their properties, triggering concern that many homes will be compulsorily acquired.
The state government last week sent the letter to residents in Collingwood, Fitzroy and Clifton Hill on or near Alexandra Parade and whose homes could stand in the way of the multibillion-dollar tollway.
”I am writing to you directly today to further update you on the project because your property is close to where the east-west link is likely to be constructed,” the letter stated.
Residents were urged to provide the government’s Linking Melbourne Authority with their name and phone number, or their landlord or real estate agent’s details.The selected residents were told they would be provided with more-detailed information about the project and ”its likely effects in your area” before information was released to the public.
Yarra mayor Jackie Fristacky said the letter lacked detail on how the project would impact properties. She said: ”The state government has indicated that there will be compulsory acquisitions. The letters could cause alarm to residents because there is no detail.”
She said the Linking Melbourne Authority recently met the council’s chief executive and said 250 letters would be sent to residents who it thought would be affected by the tunnel.
A government spokeswoman said the authority would continue to communicate with residents who live ”in and around the general area” being reviewed for the project. ”No specific route has yet been declared and so we cannot say how many properties are to be acquired or where.”
She said the project was critical, and would create jobs and improve congestion.
Socialist Yarra councillor Stephen Jolly said the letter had immediately undermined the property values of hundreds of homes and caused a great deal of stress. ”If properties are not going to be demolished, they will have their value reduced by being much, much closer to the tunnel.”
Expressions of interest for the first stage of the $6 billion to $8 billion project, which will connect the Eastern Freeway to CityLink, will be invited this month and construction is due to start before the end of next year.
A previously released map showing the ”indicative project corridor” was enclosed with the letter, showing the tunnel snaking its way under inner suburbs from a vague point near the Eastern Freeway and Gold Street in Collingwood.
Collingwood resident Keith Fitzgerald, 70, has lived in his Bendigo Street home all his life and received the letter last week. He expects his property will be compulsorily acquired.
”We would be the first to go,” he said. He remembers when compulsory acquisition notices were handed out in 1972 to 99 neighbouring residential properties to facilitate the Eastern Freeway.
”I don’t want to go out far, I want to stay close to the city because I have lived here my whole life. I love the parks, I love the Smith Street restaurants and the Queens Parade shopping area.”In May, the government said ground vibrations from construction machinery, loud noise and poor air quality were some of the risks associated with the construction of the east-west road tunnel.
Henriette Cook, The Age, July 15, 2013