Coalition overruled advice on road links: Recommendation a priority freeway linking Eastern and Tullamarine freeways

Victoria’s top road planning authority urged the Coalition government just four months after it took office to give priority to a new freeway link from West Footscray to the Port of Melbourne ahead of a freeway linking the Eastern and Tullamarine freeways.

But the government rejected the high-level advice, choosing instead to prioritise the eastern section of the east-west link.

The Linking Melbourne Authority told the government in March, 2011: ”As WestLink Stage 1 [West Footscray-Port of Melbourne] is able to be procured and constructed some 24 months ahead of the alternative and also provides the crucial alternative Maribyrnong River crossing, the LMA considers this section should be prioritised for delivery.”

It recommended a business case be completed in 2011 as it ”would enable the procurement process to commence shortly after funding approval in the 2012 state budget, with construction commencing early in 2013”…

Monash University senior politics lecturer Nick Economou said there were clear political reasons to build the eastern section. ”There’s more votes in moving voters’ cars than moving trucks,” he said.

Dr Economou said the Liberal Party had to win seats such as Narre Warren North and South and Cranbourne to have a clear majority in the next Parliament and the east-west link could assist. ”In political terms, the east-west link has much more utility than the west link, it is just simply a matter of voters and voters stuck in their cars,” he said.

Treasurer Michael O’Brien has also cited voters in the federal seats of Deakin, La Trobe and Chisholm as relevant to the new Eastern Freeway connection.

Opposition major projects spokesman Tim Pallas said the government should release a business case for the east-west link. ”You wouldn’t renovate your bathroom on such shoddy specs.”

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