TWO major inner-city transport projects have won backing in the 2012-13 State Budget, with preliminary drilling for the controversial East West road link to start within weeks.
The budget provides $15 million for planning the link from the Eastern Freeway to Kensington, and almost $50 million for the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel under the CBD.
Preliminary work on the East West Link – including geotechnical drilling, and engineering and environmental surveys – will begin shortly as the government prepares plans and a business case for the multi-billion dollar project.
“We will work closely with the community to plan out a project that responds to local concerns and delivers the cross-city alternative to alleviate congestion and ensure travel time reliability for families and freight,” Roads and Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder said.
The project (which could take the form of a tunnel or overpass) is supported by the RACV, but opposed by local resident and environmental groups and federal Greens member for Melbourne Adam Bandt.
“The only way this tollway will be built is if the Federal Government helps fund it and I will doing everything I can to stop that,” Mr. Bandt said.
Meanwhile, the budget had $49.7 million for the proposed Melbourne Metro rail tunnel, which would pass under the CBD from Footscray to the Domain with five underground stations along the way.
Mr. Mulder said the funds would be used to buy land along the proposed route so it could proceed quickly when it secured federal funding.
“Melbourne Metro will strengthen and expand the inner core of the rail network and provide extra capacity to increase services and improve public transport across Melbourne,” Mr Mulder said.
Melbourne Council supports the project, while Federal Government body Infrastructure Australia in 2010 classified the $4.9 billion first stage of the project as “ready to proceed”.