Melbourne Times Weekly: State budget – East-West road link fight revived

Melbourne Times Weekly: State budget – East-West road link fight revived, Chris Hingston (8 May, 2012)
Residents are hoping to revive a grassroots campaign opposing an East-West road link through the inner north, after the state government allocated funding to plan for the project in last week’s budget. About 150 people attended a community meeting last week to discuss strategies to oppose the road link.

The government wants to spend $15million developing a business case for an East-West link, with engineering surveys and preliminary geotechnical drilling to begin immediately.

Drilling is planned along Alexandra Parade, including intersections at Hoddle Street, Smith Street, Queens Parade, Nicholson Street and Drummond Street, as well as at Macarthur Road and Elliott Avenue near Royal Park.

The East-West link would connect the Eastern Freeway with the Western Ring Road.

Melbourne MHR Adam Bandt said an East-West link could “massively affect the liveability of our inner northern suburbs”.

“This money should be spent on progressing plans for Doncaster rail, not wrecking inner-Melbourne neighbourhoods,” he said.

RMIT University transport senior lecturer Paul Mees said if built, the road link would “disgorge traffic” onto nearby roads.

“It is mind boggling what is supposed to happen when all that traffic comes onto already busy roads,” he said.

He said the 2008 Eddington report costed an East West tunnel at $10billion.

“That was four years ago and construction costs haven’t gone down since then.”

Yarra Campaign for Action on Transport secretary Freda Watkin said a coalition of local stakeholders were banding together to fight the proposal.

“We want public transport not toll roads,” Ms Watkin said.

Roads Minister Terry Mulder said the link would help solve some of Melbourne’s major transport challenges, including queues at the end of the Eastern Freeway.