Concerns aired over East West Link

Herald Sun: Concerns aired over East West Link. 20 April 2014

The Napthine Government’s own Health Department is pressing for more details on the impact of the East West Link project on local residents.

Potential for more road crashes, disruption to key public transport services and reduced ability for cycling and walking have been highlighted in the department’s submission to the project’s assessment committee.

The $6-8 billion tunnel is a key plank of the Government’s re-election campaign, but is facing stiff political opposition from Labor, some inner-city councils and affected residents.

Relying on data provided by the Linking Melbourne Authority, the submission said there would be significant traffic impacts during construction, including closure of the Upfield rail line, disrupted tram services through Royal Park and bus services on Hoddle St.

It also noted road safety issues due to a changed road environment leading to “an increased incidence of accidents due to construction vehicles in most precincts.”

“As well as the impacts on the public transport services, the reduced connectivity for north-south road users and local access removes the option of active transport (cycling and walking),” said the submission by Health Department secretary Dr Pradeep Philip.

Dr Philip called for performance objectives and requirements to soften those impacts to be outlined in greater detail.

“(The department) notes that the Social Impact Assessment includes health impact concerns raised by communities affected by the proposal, and that it concludes that the post-mitigation level of impact or benefit is ‘negligible’,” he said.

“Further details on mitigation strategies would be beneficial.”

Dr Philip’s submission also said that the project’s construction had the potential to increase noise for up to five years in some areas, and it called for further assessment of future noise impacts in places like the Flemington Estate and Debney’s Park.

“The Arden-Macauley (in Kensington and North Melbourne) area has been identified as an urban growth zone,” he said.

“It is not clear whether the increase in noise-sensitive residences and changes to traffic has been assessed in the project.”

About 1500 submissions have been sent to the assessment committee, including from power companies.

Jemena Electricity Networks, which services 319,000 customers in northwest Melbourne, said the tunnel project potentially could have a major impact on its assets and electricity supply.

SP AusNet said that based on a satisfactory resolution of “our significant concerns”, the electricity firm did not object to the project.

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