The Law of Large Numbers – How much does it cost to stop a freeway?

Big ticket: Victorian premier Daniel Andrews (centre) and treasurer Tim Pallas answering questions about the decision to abandon the East West Link project in April 2015. Joe Castro/AAP Image

Honest figures about cancelling East West Link, with an attempt to include everyone else’s time and expenses.

Inside Story: The Law of Large Numbers by James Murphy (2 July 2018)

If, like me, you’ve been following the fallout from Melbourne’s East West Link freeway fiasco, you will have noticed that the bill for the Andrews government’s decision to stop the project somehow keeps growing. In April 2015, cancelling the contracts was going to cost the state $339 million in compensation. In December 2015, the ABC reported that the price tag had risen to $1.1 billion. Last week the Age had the cost reaching $1.3 billion.

Victorians will be relieved to hear that the real number is nothing like $1.3 billion. Publicly available information shows that the cost directly incurred by cancelling the contracts was $527,600,000 — a lot of money, but less than half the Age’s figure. That’s $339 million in compensation to the private sector for costs incurred (including compo for losing bids to build it); $81 million in bank fees for a facility set up for the project; $217 million in losses on swaps and other hedges; $600,000 spent by the government on legal and consulting fees to get out of the thing; and subtract from that $110 million in cash returned to state coffers. The figure has shifted a little — some of the bank fees and swaps have fluctuated in price or been repurposed for other projects — but it has remained well short of the billion-dollar mark. Read more

Fall of EWL Anniversary Picnic

Tollways don't belong in public parks

Tollways don’t belong in public parks

Several community tunnel picket stalwarts, acknowledging one year since the park was saved from East West Link.

Several community tunnel picket stalwarts, acknowledging one year since the park was saved from East West Link.

Tony Murphy

Tony Murphy

Here’s a couple of photos from a quiet little celebration on 16 December 2015 at Royal Park with several community tunnel picket stalwarts, acknowledging one year since the park was saved from East West Link.

“In the weeks before the election, right up to the Friday before, the East West Link Consortium tried to start up preparatory work in Royal Park—surveying for the workers’ carpark, doing water testing etc. (we heard from an engineer they had been instructed to rack up billable hours.) a number of us maintained a deck chair vigil there and were largely able to stop them. a single half-hearted visit from the police.

On the Monday we went back, just in case, but the white trucks stayed away: fortunately we were not in the universe where Denis Napthine won and was forging ahead”

Royal Park Protection Group: Final Nail(s) in Coffin for EWL!!

Exemptions for East West Link Project Deleted from Royal Park Heritage Registration by Heritage Council of Victoria.

The Heritage Council of Victoria announced a decision which was made on 3 December 2015 and communicated yesterday to amend the existing registration of Royal Park on the State Heritage Register to remove the permit exemptions associated with the cancelled East West Link project. (These had been introduced by the former Minister for Planning Matthew Guy.)

A legendary Tunnel Picket dog

A legendary Tunnel Picket dog

Additional Background:

Community Tunnel Picket & Crop Circles at Ross Straw Field (February 2014)

Bid to include Royal Park on Victorian Heritage Register may affect East West Link plans (February 2014)

Royal Park vigil + photo shoot (November 2014)

Could you please ask your surveyors to exit Royal Park?‘ (November 2014)

Royal Park – The Last Summer. Photographs by David Tatnall

How community action re-politicised transport planning in Victoria

It emerged as the key issue in the Victorian election and arguably led to the downfall of a government – but the East-West Link tollway also set a blueprint for community activism with impact.

The Centre for Urban Research’s Dr Crystal Legacy has researched the community-led anti-tollway campaign and examined how it came to have such a significant political effect.

The proposed 18km East-West Link tollway was designed to link Melbourne’s Western Ring Road and Eastern Freeway but community opposition to the project spread when the Napthine Liberal government signed contracts in 2014 to construct the multi-billion dollar project before taking the plan to an election.

Legacy says the government’s decision to remove the community from the transport investment decision-making process and its attempts to depoliticise the decision only served to “hyper-politicise” the project.

“Politically engaged citizens will go to great lengths to create their own spaces where deliberations about the transport problems, priorities and investments can occur, but in a manner that allows alternative transport futures such as public transport to also be considered,” she says.

Campaigners engaged heavily in social media, community-led forums and one-to-one consultation sites to garner support for their plight. Continue Reading…

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