The Age: East West Link project approved with Royal Park largely spared. June 30, 2014, Adam Carey and Clay Lucas
The six-kilometre East West Link tollway through Melbourne’s inner north will be built after Planning Minister Matthew Guy announced he had approved the project on Monday.
But some elements of the massively controversial road project have been culled following the recommendations of a 30-day planning panel hearing held in April.
Much of Royal Park’s heritage-listed grounds have been spared the bulldozer after Mr Guy axed the Elliott Avenue interchange from the design. The road will instead be built with access to Flemington Road, “subject to further detailed design work”, Mr Guy said.
Refinements to the design of the nest of flyovers at the tunnel’s western end in Parkville will also be required.
“I have approved the East West Link eastern section as a wholly integrated project that will deliver a critical transport connection for Victoria,” Mr Guy said.
“The value and importance of the East West Link project to Victoria is clearly recognised in the assessment committee’s report. The project will significantly improve traffic flows in Melbourne’s inner-north and provide an opportunity for enhanced public transport services.”
But Mr Guy did not accept all of the planning panel’s recommendations. The link to the Port of Melbourne, with an elevated road running parallel to CityLink above Moonee Ponds Creek to Footscray Road, was approved despite the assessment committee having recommended deferring its construction while other options – building it as a tunnel or to the east of CityLink, instead of it being on the viaduct’s western side – be reviewed.
The committee recommended that the link to the port, called Part B, be set aside until recently announced works on CityLink, the Tullamarine Freeway and WestLink were “clarified”.
Opposition planning spokesman Brian Tee said the committee had found the process was rushed and incomplete. “The process hasn’t followed any logical path – it has been botched every step of the way,” Mr Tee said. “We don’t have a business plan, we don’t have traffic projections, and now we don’t even have a finalised route.”
The $6 billion to $8 billion link is the most expensive road project in Victoria’s history. Work is due to start this year and finish in 2019.
Harriet Mantell, from the community group Residents against the Tunnel, said she was gratified that Mr Guy had released the committee’s full report but “very disappointed” that he had approved the project.
“Obviously there is some relief about the nightmare at Elliott Avenue, but I’m just concerned that we now have potentially a whole new series of impacts because he’s decided to change the route and presumably the project boundary. There will be significant impact and all those people who are impacted won’t have an opportunity to have a say on this,” Ms Mantell said.
She urged the Napthine government to defer signing contracts for the project until after an assessment of the revised design’s full impact on Flemington Road.