Ten more years of stress until tunnel takes the pressure off – Not If We Say Yes to Doncaster Rail

The concept that freeways, which bring traffic will reduce congestion, and eliminate through traffic in Brunswick and Fitzroy was again walked out in the Sunday Herald Sun two page spread; an article which was tantamount to government propaganda.

It is important to keep ourselves informed so for those who missed it below is an edited version of the article.

Ten more years of stress until tunnel takes the pressure off – Graeme Hammond, Sunday Herald Sun May 06, 2012

Long-suffering Melbourne drivers face at least another 10 years of chronic and worsening congestion before work is completed on a major tunnel project to clear Eastern Freeway traffic out of city streets.

Government sources said this week the Baillieu Government was “red hot” about making a start on the immense $9 billion project that would rival CityLink and the railway City Loop in its scope…

But despite committing $15 million in last week’s Budget to start work on a business case for the project, the Government is facing huge difficulties in obtaining funding because of the economic downturn and Federal Government spending cutbacks.

Under the project – recommended four years ago by infrastructure consultant Sir Rod Eddington – a tunnel would be built to allow Eastern Freeway traffic to drive to CityLink without stopping, and then continue to the Western Ring Road near the Deer Park bypass.

Under Sir Rod’s plan, the tunnel would act strictly as a city bypass, but also give trucks direct access to the Port of Melbourne rather than crawl through residential streets.

The tunnel would have no city exits or entrances between Hoddle St and the CityLink off-ramp at Flemington (This may have changed as city exits are now being considered at the request of Tollway Partners)…

Sir Rod warned that steady growth in port freight and population growth was rapidly taking city roads to capacity.  He said an alternative river crossing was also imperative to lessen the city’s dependence on the West Gate Bridge…

The Brumby government, which received the Eddington blueprint in 2008, carried out extensive planning and community consultation for the western section of the bypass, between the port and the Western Ring Rd, and submitted a request for federal funding in its final year of power.  But it showed no enthusiasm for a tunnel under Fitzroy, Carlton and Parkville – all ALP heartland suburbs.. Infrastructure and business industry sources say the Baillieu Government is keen to move but is hampered by funding shortages.

Premier Ted Baillieu said in November the East-West Link, which would duplicate the Monash-to-West Gate freeway route to the north of the city, was a transport priority for the Government.

He announced Victoria would seek $30 million from the Federal Government’s infrastructure fund to assist planning for what he described as a “once in a generation project that would transform the way people move around Melbourne in a way not seen since CityLink and the City Rail Loop were constructed”.

Steven Wojtkiw, chief economist at the Victorian Employers’ Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said the Government had already begun planning work on what would be a massive engineering challenge, a task complicated by the fact that it would disrupt existing transport networks during construction.  “But the critical challenge is funding,” he said.  “The Labor government to its credit commissioned the Eddington report, but chose to progress only the western part of the blueprint.  “I hope this Government has the appetite for looking at it in total.”

Infrastructure giants Transurban and ConnectEast, which manage CityLink and EastLink, said the East West Link would be good for the city but both said a decision to tender for the work depended on the final plans.

Transurban spokesman Wes Ballantine said it came down to details.

“Until the details are finalised, it’s impossible to say if we’d go for it,” he said.

“The engineering challenges, and the analysis of traffic flows and provision of exit and entry ramps, are critical.  “And I think we’re a long way off that.”

The nation’s peak infrastructure body says Federal Government input is essential…

Retrieved 7 May 2012 from: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/more-news/ten-more-years-of-stress-until-tunnel/story-fn7x8me2-1226347630709