As Expected “Traffic chaos sparks East West Link debate”

BOTH sides of politics have used the plight of thousands of frustrated motorists caught in Melbourne’s traffic chaos to push their plans to ease congestion.

The Burnley and Domain tunnels, which run under the Yarra River to bypass the CBD, were closed from 4.30am (AEST) on Wednesday after problems with CityLink’s network communications between its tunnel safety systems and control rooms…

The state coalition government wants a second river crossing in Melbourne and plans to build an 18km East West Link, which would connect the Eastern Freeway to CityLink, the Port of Melbourne and to the M80 Ring Road.

The opposition supports a second river crossing to ease pressure on the West Gate Bridge but does not support the linking of the eastern suburbs with the Tullamarine Freeway.

RACV policy manager Brian Negus said Wednesday’s traffic mayhem showed the critical need for the East West Link.

“This vital tunnel … must be constructed to provide an alternative route across town for road users and to relieve the congestion in the northern section of the city which occurs every day,” he said in a statement.

He called on the federal government to match a $1.5 billion East West Link funding commitment made by federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

Federal Labor has said the project is not a funding priority, while the state government has committed $15 million towards developing a business case.

Premier Ted Baillieu said the traffic chaos caused by the tunnels’ closure underlined the need for a second river crossing linking the city’s east and west.

“It does underscore that we do, as we’ve said many times in the past, have all our eggs in one basket in terms of a river crossing,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“Ultimately this does reinforce the case for a second river crossing and we’re committed to it.”

State opposition infrastructure spokesman Tim Pallas said the problems on the M1 demonstrated the government’s lack of planning, noting NSW has just unveiled a $30 billion two-decade infrastructure plan.

He said the East West Link would cost as much as $12 billion and a federal coalition government would commit just $500 million to 2016.

“That sort of expenditure would suck the life out of any other potential expenditure,” Mr Pallas said…

Mr Pallas said a road connecting the eastern suburbs to the Tullamarine Freeway was “a road to nowhere”.

He said Labor’s priorities were investing more in public transport and addressing congestion on Hoddle Street.

Melissa Jenkins, The Herald Sun, October 03, 2012

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