“Trains Not Tollroads” Launch a fantastic success: Yarra Council vows to fight east-west project

City of Yarra’s mayor Jackie Fristacky: ‘With that money you could build airport rail, Doncaster rail, Rowville rail, the Melboune Metro, the Mernda extension.’ Photo: Ari Hatzis

The Napthine government faces a damaging stoush over the east-west tunnel, with Yarra Council unleashing a $300,000 war chest and considering legal action to oppose the multibillion dollar road.

The inner-city council will spend $100,000 on consultants who will ”provide high-powered legal advice” and technical and academic expertise.

The council, which represents among others Clifton Hill and Collingwood where the tunnel is mooted to begin, has voted to explore a ”wide range of options, including FOI applications, to protect community interests in relation to the mooted east-west road link”.

Yarra mayor Jackie Fristacky said the east-west link was ”an improper use of public money” and would exacerbate congestion on Hoddle Street, Flemington Road and surrounding streets.

”It will also deprive Melbourne of billions of money that is needed for much-needed public transport projects,” she said.

”With that money you could build airport rail, Doncaster rail, Rowville rail, the Melbourne Metro, the Mernda extension.”

A source said the council was likely to spend more than $100,000 exploring legal options to oppose the $6 billion to $8 billion project. It will also spend $200,000 on the ”Trains not Toll Roads” campaign, launched on Thursday, and will oppose the east-west tunnel in favour of the Doncaster rail link.

Ms Fristacky said planning for the east-west link was contrary to provisions in the Transport Integration Act, as there had been a lack of consultation with stakeholders before the business case was developed, no cost-benefit analysis and a lack of transparency.

”The act requires information being given to members of the public and stakeholders in such detail so that they can understand the basis of the project. None of that has happened.”

Transport Minister Terry Mulder said the east-west tunnel would provide an opportunity for public transport improvements in the City of Yarra.

”Yarra Council are pouring ratepayers’ dollars into opposing a project that will not only improve travel times and reduce congestion, but will improve the amenity for their ratepayers by taking traffic off suburban streets.”

Yarra councillor Stephen Jolly said: ”If the government think they can put the wrecking ball to Collingwood homes without us using every tool possible to stop them, they’re dreaming.”

Henrietta Cook, The Age, June 14 2013