Toll road ‘cheese stick’ move mooted to save houses from East West Link

The Age: Toll road ‘cheese stick’ move mooted to save houses from East West Link. July 28, 2014, Adam Carey and Aisha Dow

An artist’s impression of the changes to the ‘Cheese stick’ and CityLink Photo: Supplied

The “cheese stick” that symbolically welcomes CityLink traffic to Melbourne could be shifted 80 metres north in a last-ditch change to the design of the East West Link that has been proposed as a way to save 55 Parkville homes.

The 70-metre cantilevered yellow steel beam also would be separated by a new flyover from the zip-like row of 30-metre red beams that combine to form the Melbourne Gateway, the city’s most recognised piece of freeway architecture.

The new design for East West Link, by local architects Atelier Red + Black, is an attempt to save residences, remnant vegetation, white’s skink habitat and sports fields that are in the path of the planned road.

Citylink’s ‘Cheese stick’. Photo: Justin McManus

Its creators hope the design will be adopted by the East West Link project’s planners, the Linking Melbourne Authority, who have been tasked by Planning Minister Matthew Guy with investigating possible changes to the road’s interchange with CityLink.

Mr Guy approved the multibillion-dollar project on June 30, on condition the authority investigate shifting the tunnel portals west of the Upfield railway line to Oak Street and burying them to reduce their impact on Royal Park and end the need to acquire residential properties in Parkville.

The investigation is under way. A spokeswoman for the Linking Melbourne Authority said development plans based on the minister’s decision “will be available in coming months”.

Anthony Peyton, of community group Safety Net for Royal Park, which produced the alternative design with Atelier Red + Black, said the uncertainty about the final course the East West Link will take through Parkville had created anxiety among residents.

But he said that, while other community groups had focused on trying to stop the project, Safety Net for Royal Park sought to limit its negative impact through alternative road designs.

Mr Peyton, who lives in Parkville, said there was no perfect option to build the East West Link in Parkville, but “we’re providing a viable alternative”.

He said the worst impact of their proposed design was not the relocating of the “cheese stick” but the damage it would inflict on Royal Park’s Trin Warren Tam-boore wetland.

The man-made wetland would have to be drained, cut up and then re-established after the road’s construction.

“It’s like a trade-off,” Mr Peyton said. “Do you take away the aged care [facility] and the homes or do you take the wetlands?”

Atelier Red + Black director Michael Smith said the Safety Net was based on the philosophy of limiting the most negative effects of East West Link, or in his words “at least when you fall, you don’t hit the concrete”.

The East West Link is an 18-kilometre freeway connection between the Eastern Freeway in Collingwood and the Western Ring Road in Sunshine West, which will cost up to $18 billion to build. Contracts for stage one, between the Eastern Freeway and CityLink, are due to be signed before the November state election.

The Napthine government says it will reduce cross-city travel by up to 20 minutes.

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