East West Link construction may force residents to leave their homes

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Herald Sun: East West Link construction may force residents to leave their homes. Annika Smethurst. 26 February 2014

Residents in Melbourne’s inner north could be forced to leave their homes for weeks during construction of the East West Link tunnel.

Experts for the Linking Melbourne Authority say noise and vibrations from drilling and blasting could cause problems for nearby residents.

But the agency charged with delivering the controversial East West Link project will not say how many ­residents could be displaced or which area was most at risk.

In an expert witness statement released on Wednesday, acoustic engineer Peter Fearnside, of Marshall Day Acoustics, found that temporary relocation was a “well-established method for managing short-term, high-level noise impacts”.

Mr Fearnside was called in after Yarra Council hit out at the proposed relocation, saying it was not “an acceptable solution”.

The council was responding to an impact statement for the project, which found that ­vibrations and noise from drilling and blasting through rock at the eastern end of the tunnel could result in temporary relocations.

It is expected that the construction company will offer residents the opportunity to move during the most disruptive stages.

But Mr Fearnside warned that relocations should not be used “to manage noise impacts for more than a few days or weeks at the most”.

Linking Melbourne Authority spokeswoman Gemma Boucher said offering temporary relocation had been ­standard industry practice on major construction jobs for many years, including EastLink and the Regional Rail Link.

“Typically, it will only be for a few nights,” she said.

“The specific details would be determined by the construction company once they have developed the final design and construction method.”

She said the Government had also requested the use of large acoustic sheds at both ends of the tunnels “to manage construction impacts such as dust, noise and light spill”.

Mr Fearnside’s statement was one of 30 independent reviews of community submissions for the project ahead of the March public hearing.

Documents released yesterday also show that Hoddle St could be closed while parts of the toll road are constructed.

“Any potential diversion of traffic away from Hoddle St would be during non-peak ­periods, for limited duration and would require significant traffic management measures put in place,” the report said.

annika.smethurst@news.com.au

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