Tunnel may free up Hoddle Street

The Age: Tunnel may free up Hoddle Street (March 28, 2010)

A $1.5 billion plan to ease Hoddle Street’s traffic gridlock with a new underground road will be raised at a meeting of transport, government and business groups this week as they consider options to fix the notorious traffic snarl.

The proposal to duplicate the street underground, possibly by tunnelling beneath the existing road, is one of several options examined by a VicRoads-commissioned report by consultants GHD.

But some interest groups argue that VicRoads should give up on increasing car flows and instead use cheaper measures to reduce congestion.

A state government-appointed advisory group examining the Hoddle Street gridlock – part of a two-year government consultation process – will consider the report at a meeting this week.

Group members include the RACV, public transport groups, the Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Yarra Council.

GHD reported that up to 79,000 vehicles used the intersection at Swan Street each day, and 68,000 used Victoria Parade, with forecasts for traffic from the Eastern Freeway to rise from 64,000 vehicles to 114,000 by 2031.

The report flags various options for solving Hoddle Street’s traffic problems, including underpasses at Victoria and Wellington parades and at Johnston Street at a cost of $160 million to $600 million each.

Road tunnelling or overpass measures are largely supported by the RACV and VECCI, but public transport groups have raised concerns that increasing traffic flow will only increase car use and congestion.

VECCI spokesman Chris James said radical solutions were needed and the organisation generally supported undergrounding intersections at Bridge Road, Johnston Street and Victoria Parade. Ultimately, he said, duplicating Hoddle Street with a tunnel underneath would probably be necessary.

Public Transport Users Association president Daniel Bowen said the Doncaster rail link should be considered among the options even though it is not in the consultant’s report.

He said more buses and greater bus priority were needed in Hoddle Street. ”Park and ride” options at Bulleen were increasing traffic in the clogged street.

”At Bulleen there are 300-400 spaces. The problem is that it’s full up early in the morning so people just continue on in their cars to the city,” Mr Bowen said.

How to fix Hoddle Street’s gridlock?

VicRoads commissioned report by GHD consultants

  • Tunnel under Hoddle Street, four lanes from north of Johnston Street to north of Brunton Road: $1.5 billion.
  • Hoddle Street under Victoria Parade, four lanes between Albert and Gipps streets: $600 million.
  • Tunnel under Wellington Parade: $530 million.
  • Hoddle Street under Johnston Street, three lanes in each direction along Hoddle: $160 million.
  • Tunnels for trams under Hoddle Street at intersections.
  • Park and Ride at Victoria Park Station: $70 million.
  • Pedestrian bridge at Johnston Street: $6 million.
  • Northbound bus lane in service road: $12 million.