80km/h limit on the cards for $6.8b East West Link

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Herald Sun: 80km/h limit on the cards for $6.8b East West Link. 1 October 2014

Artist’s impression of the East West Link Eastern Fwy ramp.

A speed limit of 80km/h would be set along the new $6.8 billion East West Link toll road.

More details of the 6.6km road plan were released yesterday, including a modified western tunnel entrance and news that 3700 Victorians would get work on the project — 500 more than first thought.

The Herald Sun can reveal a key reason for the jobs boost is a guarantee that builder East West Connect, which includes construction giant Lend Lease, will exceed local content rules.

While the group must use 80 per cent local goods and services, it will instead ensure 90 per cent is from Australian soil. This includes sourcing 98 per cent of structural steel locally, a move that will put enormous pressure on Labor Leader Daniel Andrews over his opposition to the link.

The Australian Workers’ Union, which was once led nationally by Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, has run a strong campaign calling for more local steel procurement.

Premier Denis Napthine said Mr Andrews should back the job-creating project.

“We are creating a massive economic boon, with local businesses and workers set to reap the benefits from the East West Link project both during construction and once the project opens,” he said.

But Mr Andrews yesterday said the $6.8 billion deal was “not a legally binding contract” and maintained his pledge to snub it if he is elected premier in November.

Treasurer Michael O’Brien said this “would cost Victorian taxpayers hundreds of millions, and potentially over a billion dollars, in compensation, damages and break fees”.

The Herald Sun has learnt motorists will be slowed to 80km/h on the road, but the Government insists the journey from the Eastern Fwy to CityLink could take just seven minutes when it opens in 2019.

Victorian taxpayers will cough up $2 billion for the construction, with $1.5 billion coming from Commonwealth taxpayers. The rest of the $6.8 billion cost will be paid off through a mix of taxpayer money and tolling revenue controlled by the state.

Mr O’Brien said it was too early to reveal toll prices, and also refused to reveal payments East West Connect would get once the tunnel opens, saying that could affect tenders for Stage Two of the East West Link.

Lend Lease construction chief executive David Saxelby said major works should start in “four to six months”.

The Government also revealed 88 properties have been voluntarily acquired, and 108 have been compulsorily bought.

matthew.johnston@news.com.au

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