Trains Not Tollroads: Mega-road mooted amid airport expansion plan


Traffic from Melbourne’s south and west would be funnelled into a new six-lane Airport Drive in an effort to curb growing congestion into Melbourne Airport.

The $80 million extension will link up the Western Ring Road via Airport Drive and feed into a fourth terminal planned at Tullamarine, expected to service a budget flight market.

Traffic and council stakeholders were recently shown plans that included a rail link reserve along the extended Airport Drive.

A draft master plan setting out the airport’s strategy for the next 20 years was released on Monday. It shows the airport generated 110,000 daily vehicle trips in 2011 and this was expected to grow to 230,000 by 2033.

Among the projects in the master plan are the widening of the Western Ring Road and Centre Road, but Melrose Drive is mooted for downsizing when Airport Drive – from the Ring Road to link intersections of Sharps Road, Melrose Drive and Mercer Drive – is built.

Airport Drive is to be built first as a two-lane, two-way road, but “when demand warranted”, would be upgraded to a four or six-lane road.

Melbourne Airport spokesman Matt Francis said that Airport Drive would provide “a significant benefit for people coming from the western part of town”.

“We’re starting construction on that next year and [hope to have] it operational the following year.”

Of a much-promoted rail link to the airport, the plan says that on airport land, the line would be completely underground, including a station with direct links to terminals, to continue development.

The station would be located between the current car park and the terminals.

There is also talk of better links from regional and interstate rail, including use of current or proposed bus routes from train stations at Deer Park, Broadmeadows and Watergardens.

Dave Jones, the RACV manager of roads and traffic, said the organisation supported the road link alternative.

Drivers could use Airport Drive now as part of their route to the airport but it was a “convoluted” journey, he said, and called for electronic variable message signs to alert drivers to congestion and accidents on either the Tullamarine Freeway or the Western Ring Road-Airport Drive route.

“It is important that if drivers are coming into the airport from the Western Ring Road that they can be made aware of traffic conditions early on so they can switch to the best route,” Mr Jones said.

He said the RACV also supported rail links to the airport.

Adrian Lowe, The Age, 4 December 2012

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