Victoria’s peak transport body backs East West Link

The Age: Victoria’s peak transport body backs East West Link. November 18, 2014. Philip Hopkins

Victoria’s peak transport body has backed East West Link, saying the $14 billion-$18 billion freeway tunnel project will cut traffic congestion and deliver freight more efficiently.

Victorian Transport Association chief executive officer Peter Anderson said East West Link would become a major truck route.

“That’s good for the industry and it’s good for commerce. Drivers will take the easier and less-complicated routes. It’s better to channel freight through freight corridors,” he said. “No one, including drivers and truck owners, wants trucks going down their street.”

Freeways generally spared stoppages and traffic jams, he said. “Unpredictability creates inefficiency and negative attitudes, which lead to road rage and a lack of investment.”

However, Mr Anderson said it was necessary to go beyond East West and complete the Ring Road between Ringwood and Greensborough. “That would take one-third of the heavy vehicles off the Monash Freeway,” he said. “Now, to get access to the north-west, trucks coming from the east must go through the city.”

CBRE’s latest report on Melbourne’s industrial markets said the $8 billion-$10 billion western section would improve access from the western industrial market to the Port of Melbourne, decreasing travel times by 15-20 minutes.

“The proposed road link will increase the efficiency and attractiveness of this section of the Victorian industrial market.”

A state government study, the first of its kind in Australia, found that 19 per cent of all traffic on Melbourne’s roads were commercial vehicles – 11.5 per cent light commercial and 7.5 per cent trucks. Most heavy trucks (85 per cent) were carrying freight to supermarkets and shopping centres.

The federal Bureau of Transport and Regional Economics estimates Victoria’s freight task will triple by 2046, with congestion costing the Melbourne economy $6 billion by 2020 unless alleviated.

Linking Melbourne Authority figures show that at the end of the Eastern Freeway at morning peak, 30 per cent of westbound vehicles go to the CBD, while 3 per cent of eastbound vehicles come from the CBD, with 45 per cent originating in the west.

Across the day, only 12 per cent of westbound vehicles go to the CBD, with up to a third destined for the west. Many east-west vehicles also use Bell Street, Brunswick Rd, Moreland Rd, Victoria St and Johnston St. The project promises big time savings.

Labor, which is opposed to the current form of the East West Link, has proposed an alternative to East West Link to service the Port of Melbourne – the $400 million-$500 million West Gate Distributor, partly funded by tolls, which aims to take 5000 trucks a day off the West Gate Freeway. It would consist of on-and-off ramps at the west end of West Gate Freeway and a dedicated road through Yarraville that would enter Swanson Dock from the rear via Footscray Rd.

However, the Coalition Government has signed contracts for the East Westproject.

Colliers’ latest Melbourne report notes that the city’s north-west and south-east industrial markets are the fastest-growing industrial precincts in Australia.

Based on the rapid growth in traffic at the Port of Melbourne over the past decade, an expected doubling of Melbourne’s port capacity could generate a further 10 million to 15 million square metres of development over the next 20 years, Colliers said.

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