The protagonist gather leading up to the May Budget: Wells defends road funding commitment

Treasurer Kim Wells has hit back at a call from the RACV to boost road funding and infrastructure investment in this year’s state budget.

The state’s peak motorist lobby group had demanded “real action” from the Baillieu government in this year’s budget and said last year’s budget failed to provide adequate funding to maintain Victoria’s road network.  The RACV’s general manager of public policy,

Brian Negus, said the coming budget “must commit to an improvement in the condition of Victoria’s roads, including reducing the length of road that is in a deteriorated condition and putting road users lives at risk”.

Mr. Wells said the government was spending billions on infrastructure.  “We are investing $5.6 billion in infrastructure this financial year, including a $695 million investment in the state’s road network to fix the backlog of maintenance…

Mr. Wells said the RACV was also calling for an “accelerated and ongoing program to remove all level crossings on the electrified train network” and the Baillieu government was “spending more this year than ever before to remove dangerous level crossings”.

The RACV budget submission urged the government to prioritise easing three congestion hot spots in this year’s budget:

• Murrumbeena Road/Neerim Road level crossing, Murrumbeena

• Chandler Highway, from Heidelberg Road to Princess Street, Alphington/Kew

• Point Cook Road, Princes Freeway to Dunnings Road, Seabrook

Longer term projects supported in the RACV’s budget submission include the East-West road link from the Eastern Freeway to the Tullamarine Freeway/Citylink with an extension to the Western Ring Road; the Metro rail tunnel between south Kensington and South Yarra; the north-east link connecting the Metropolitan Ring Road (Greensborough); and the Eastern Freeway/Eastlink and the Melbourne Airport rail link.

Mr Wells said, “with regard to East-West Link, the Coalition is the only party actually supporting the project.  We invested $15 million in this year’s budget to get the project shovel ready”.

“Daniel Andrews has declared his opposition to it [East-West Link], labeling it a ‘hoax’ and the federal government have not committed any funding to it,” Mr Wells said.

Jason Dowling, The Age, February 14, 2013

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