Auditor slams plan for road tunnel link: increased road use induces increased congestion

Victorians can have no confidence the proposed multibillion-dollar tunnel connecting the Eastern Freeway to CityLink is the most effective and economical option for managing congestion, according to a blistering new Auditor-General’s report.

It said not enough consideration was given to how much new projects ”increased congestion by inducing extra road use” or whether strategies to encourage fewer people to drive were better value for money.

The report said pressure on state finances and uncertainty around Commonwealth contributions meant Victoria had to be smarter in how it tackled Melbourne’s growing congestion with greater emphasis on managing demand.

The report said current strategies remained heavily weighted towards increasing road space ”with little attention to demand management”.

The report by Acting Auditor-General Dr Peter Frost found congestion was getting worse. It said Victoria had no statewide congestion or demand management strategy to ”inform infrastructure expansion”.

It also noted some measures that could ease congestion had been ignored or cut.

The report said funding was cut in 2012 for the VicRoads Incident Response Service to conduct routine patrols on arterial roads and this meant ”motorists may now experience longer delays following minor crashes and vehicle breakdowns”..

Opposition roads spokesman Luke Donnellan said the government had been ”sitting still, with no plan and no action on alleviating congestion”.

Greens MP Greg Barber said: ”The only permanent cure for congestion is better public transport.’

Jason Dowling, The Age, April 18, 2013

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