Anger as East West Link drilling tests start (again) at nine sites in inner northern suburbs

East West Link drilling on Alexandra Parade East in Clifton Hill. Picture: Jake Nowakowski Source: News Limited

East West Link drilling on Alexandra Parade East in Clifton Hill. Picture: Jake Nowakowski Source: News Limited

Drilling work on the controversial East West Link development kicked off across nine sites in Melbourne’s north.

In a letter sent to affected residents last Monday, the Linking Melbourne Authority said it would be carrying out “geotechnical testing” in Clifton Hill, Carlton North, Collingwood and Fitzroy from this week to investigate the earth underneath the project area.The results of the testing will assist with designing and planning for the road tunnel, which is expected to cost up to $8 billion.

Opposed residents concerned about the 6km road’s impact on traffic congestion and their quality of life say the beginning of the drilling work is a blow, as many people living in the affected area and the local council are against the tunnel.

The drilling began on Alexandra Pde East, Clifton Hill, with crews expected to work on the site for about four days before moving to one of eight other locations in the City of Yarra.

The work, which involves “drilling 100mm diameter boreholes” of depths of up to 60m on each site, is expected to finish in mid-October.

Linking Melbourne said the drilling is not expected to create “excessive noise”.

Similar tests were carried out last year in Fitzroy, Carlton, Parkville and Royal Park and more testing will occur as the development continues, the authority said.

City of Yarra mayor Jackie Fristacky said council maintained the tunnel would only exacerbate traffic congestion.

“We cannot see how the East West Link can reduce congestion on Hoddle St, the Tullamarine Freeway and Alexandra Pde – it will only enable more vehicles to come through more quickly,” she said.

Clifton Hill resident Dario Rizio said seeing the drilling work start about 20m from his house yesterday morning made him emotional.

“It made the whole scenario of this monstrosity being built near my house more vivid,” Mr Rizio, a member of the Residents Against the Tunnel protest group, said.

“This is the beginning of an $8 billion mistake.”

Fellow Clifton Hill local Peter Harding said he would continue to fight the project.

“The Premier hasn’t got a mandate to start drilling. There’s huge opposition to (the tunnel),” he said.

“There’s more people getting involved in resident groups (against the tunnel) all the time – the feeling is getting stronger.”

Premier Denis Napthine said earlier this month the road would reduce congestion, but would need to be tolled to be cost effective.

Samantha Landy, Herald Sun, September 20, 2013