Motorists want Melbourne’s northern and eastern freeways connected, despite the East West Link being dumped.
The RACV’s number one transport priority ahead of the May state budget is extending the Metropolitan Ring Road from the city’s northeast to the Eastern Freeway.
Joining the two roads would provide an alternative – albeit much longer – route to the axed $6.8 billion East West Link road tunnel.
The motoring body’s pre-budget submission said completing the ring road around Melbourne would relieve congestion in the north-eastern suburbs.
“This link is of critical importance to the freight sector as it will complete the route from the south-east industrial sites,” the submission said.
Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan would not be drawn on whether the ring road extension would be part of the budget.
“We understand there are a range of different road projects that people around the city are keen to see supported,” Ms Allan told reporters on Tuesday.
Victoria has $3 billion in federal money set aside for the East West Link, which Prime Minister Tony Abbott has argued should be used for a road project.
If built, the ring road extension would run through Greensborough, Heidelberg, and connect to the Eastern Freeway at Bulleen or Ringwood, depending on the route.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the government could take advantage of low interest rates to fund infrastructure.
“I’m interested in a mature discussion about how we can use our strong position … to potentially borrow some more money to get projects away faster,” he told ABC radio.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said the extension would eventually be needed, but warned of the cost.
“There is still a lot of engineering work to do around where the portholes will be, and indeed how deep those tunnels would have to be under the Yarra,” he said.
The Victorian budget will be released on May 5.