A liveable North East: North East Link Forum

Credit: Nick Carson at English Wikipedia [CC BY 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

You can catch up with the A Better North East – North East Link Forum (video link) organised by Samantha Dunn MP held on 17 July 2018 where independent experts John Stone (Melbourne Uni) and Tony Morton (PTUA), and Michelle Giovas (member of Friends of Banyule and Warringal Conservation Society) discuss what solutions are needed to fix congestion in the North East, and the impacts the North East Link will have, including killing off any future plans for Doncaster Rail.

Podcast topics cover the public transport improvements we could see for the same investment as a new toll-road, looking at methods to improve our existing roads and to get trucks off them and exploring the environmental and health impacts of the proposed project.

North East Link Forum #1: Samantha Dunn & Tony Morton: Tony Morton provides background, talking about LA traffic issues, now explaining induced traffic effect, especially when transport alternatives are poor. NELink origins in 1960s freeway plan, linking F18 / F19, prime objective making it ‘easier’ to drive into central Melbourne… then find a parking spot… Tony onto explaining the triple threat of WestGateTunnel, EWLink, NELink.

What’s driving this massive road developments, despite poor BCR for EWLink? Tony Morton believes it’s government allowing unsolicited proposals and Transurban pushing their commercial interests. Why not choose good public transport solutions? Tony mentions poor, out dated traffic modelling. NELink pushes old economic ideas and poor outcomes for future Melbourne residents

North East Link Forum #2: Michelle Giovas: Michelle Giovas from Friends of Banyule and Warringah Conservation Society on NELink impacts upon local environment. Talks about how NELink will remove community assets, public transport, parklands, open space, Banyule wetlands with remnant vegetation. Michelle details huge NELink project impact, affecting six municipal council areas in greater Melbourne. Massive freeway widening along eastern, information not easily publicly available.

Eastern freeway widening for NELink includes new bridge at Merri Creek. New widening is an estimated TWENTY LANES WIDE. She mentions NELink has poor legend on it’s map, actual project area footprint doesn’t include Simpson Barracks, maybe 450 hectares of disturbed land, including Yarra flats, numerous billabongs and local creek headwaters. **Eastern fwy widening is 18km long**

NELink design schematic is extremely confusing, intersections/crossings. Project management believe local creeks where replanting has occurred and wildlife now live are ‘degraded’. Possibly to be replaced with barrel drains. Many endangered and special species live in NELink project area, including fish, grasses, micro bats, birds. Many noticeable older habitat trees, culturally significant areas, Bolin Bolin billabong, songlines tree estimated to be 600 years old

NWLink impacts we can’t see: vehicle emissions, vibration, vegetation removal. Michelle mentions huge West Gate Tunnel tree removal, these were originally planted by the community. Michelle finishes on NELink community impacts, school’s, sport fields, golf course, open space.

North East Link Forum #3: Samantha Dunn & John Stone: John Stone from Melbourne Uni, how communities come together to not allow their cities to be overwhelmed by cars, like NELink. He mentions how Transurban moved quickly after 2014 election to hijack Victorian transport agenda. EES/CIS processes around megaprojects are now designed to confuse the public, simply isn’t worlds best practice. Similar traffic modelling taken to court in QLD/NSW. Only reason for traffic modelling is to distort reality, it’s for bankers and rent seekers, megaprojects like NELink, EWLink, WestGateTunnel aren’t developed as solutions to anything other than financial gain. John talks about lessons learnt from campaigns against EWLink and F19, building strong engaged communities who want a better Melbourne. John concludes: do we want $20-30 BILLION spent on megaprojects or do we want this money spent on hospitals, school’s and public transport.

North East Link Forum #4: Samantha Dunn and Audience Q&A: public questions, speakers + local councillors from Manningham Council, applause when resident mentions she been waiting for Doncaster Rail for over 20 years. Tony Morton explains tired and predictably bureaucratic arguments against Doncaster Rail. Mentions positive example in Western Australia where govt built new line despite criticism. Topics also include air pollution, congestion pricing, psychological health, infrastructure planning and urgent need to have many different perspectives taken into consideration when projects are planned.

North East Link Forum #5: The Greens Transport Plan: Samantha Dunn discusses The Greens’ plan for the North East, build upon DART, advocate for Doncaster Rail, keep existing rail reservation, look at tram extensions and new high quality rapid bus network and routes for Melbourne.