Boost for public transport near East West Link hints at start for tunnel

Herald Sun: Boost for public transport near East West Link hints at start for tunnel. Michelle Ainsworth. 9 April 2014

A protester* stands on top of a truck at an East West work site on Alexandra Avenue. Picture: Hamish Blair Source: News Limited

Roadworks to improve public transport in streets surrounding the East West Link will begin in October.

The timing is the strongest sign yet that work on the $8 billion road tunnel will also begin before November’s state election.

Melbourne and Yarra Councils will this week receive letters from the Linking Melbourne Authority seeking consultation on where, and in what order, the works will be done.

The plan will have to be carefully managed to minimise headaches for motorists during the construction of new tram super-stops and dedicated bus lanes.

Earlier this year, the Herald Sun revealed that $32 million would be spent to improve public transport on Victoria Parade and Hoddle Street.

Transport Minister Terry Mulder said the work planned for Victoria Pde would start in October and move on to Hoddle St soon afterwards.

New tram super stops would be built at major intersections on routes 1, 8, 112 and 86, and trams would be given right of way over cars in some areas along those routes.

New stops would be built at the Smith, Brunswick and Lygon St intersections with Alexandra Pde.

Work likely to begin in October could include the widening of sections of Victoria Pde and Hoddle St and new lane markings for the improved Doncaster Area Rapid Transit bus routes on both roads.

Mr Mulder said the consultation with both inner city councils would begin from this week.

“The City of Melbourne and Yarra City Council both bring a lot of local planning expertise to the project, which will assist VicRoads in finalising the plans,” Mr Mulder said.

“Both municipalities are leading advocates for public transport improvements, so I encourage them to help VicRoads deliver these benefits as quickly as possible.”

Mr Mulder said that, excluding freeways, Hoddle St and Victoria Pde were among the state’s top 10 busiest arterial roads, carrying a bus every minute and tens of thousands of private vehicles every day.

“The significance of making these roads operate more efficiently cannot be understated,” he said.

Both councils are facing off against the Linking Melbourne Authority in daily public hearings assessing a comprehensive impact statement prepared for construction of the tunnel.

An independent assessment committee appointed by planning minister Matthew Guy is expected to make its recommendations to the minister before midyear.

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