Our urgent call: that Premier Andrews re-scopes the current Westgate Tunnel Project to focus on the original Westgate Distributor proposal taken to the election in the ALP Project 10,000 platform (2013) and delete the six lane commuter motorway into Melbourne CBD. Melbourne’s transport planning is too important to leave to companies like Transurban that are only interested in making profits.
Community concern over the project is rising. Read The Age (11 Sept) West Gate Tunnel deal to void CityLink clause designed to curb ‘super profits‘
Five weeks of hearings into the West Gate Tunnel have concluded. Once the report from the hearings is completed Minister for Planning Richard Wynne will make his recommendations arising. Comment on hearings presentations is now emerging, such as the criticisms of the traffic modelling by Doug Harley – a VicRoads traffic engineer for 27 years before leaving in 2013 after speaking out over Dr Napthine’s Link EW toll road (doubts that were quoted at the time by ALP in opposition.)
Transurban want to rip apart inner west and inner north Melbourne to build this new toll road. The name Westgate Tunnel is a gross under-representation of the scale of this project.
The Andrews Victorian ALP government is delivering on almost all of our 2013 transport election promises, reorienting an industry driven CBD/urban planning model towards a public transport / liveable cities model. Our congratulations.
These initiatives were founded on the 2013 Victorian Labor Transport alternative plan, Project 10,000, financed in large part achieved following courageous rejection of the Coalition Napthine Governments’ East West Link folly. Our congratulations.
It is likely the ALP won in 2013 on the basis of Project 10,000 plans. Its top three core promises were:
1. remove our 50 worst level crossings
2. build Melbourne Metro Rail
3. get 5,000 trucks a day off the West Gate Bridge.
This third core promise and plan focused on removing heavy trucks from on inner west streets and facilitating their access between the freeway and the Port Melbourne. It did not have a motorway disgorging into the Melbourne CBD; there were no off-ramps through the middle of the E-Gate precinct, and consumers were not paying an additional ten years of CityLink tolls to Transurban.
So why did things suddenly change?
In May 2015 an unsolicited Transurban $5.5 billion project appeared, featuring a tunnel from the West Gate Freeway to the Maribyrnong and Port Melbourne and bridge over the Maribyrnong with an elevated road along Footscray Road to the CBD north. It is a huge radial motorway feeding money into its City Link tolls and traffic into the CBD. This overblown proposal scope only addresses a small part of the Project 10,000 core promise 3. The elevated road emptying into west Melbourne is clearly designed mainly benefit Transurban.
The (former) Western Distributor has now been renamed the West Gate Tunnel. This new proposal will generate thousands more daily car commutes into inner Melbourne; and will likely reach peak-hour capacity by 2031, nine years after completion.
With more traffic dumped into North & West Melbourne and Docklands), emerging level with the Eastern Freeway exit, the zombie EW Link proposal will inevitably resurrect (as noted in the the Transurban West Gate Tunnel business case).
The planned exit flyovers will damage the E-Gate precinct housing proposal, the 20 hectare 10,000 resident mixed-use development bounded by Footscray Road, Dudley Street, the North Melbourne Rail Corridor and Moonee Ponds Creek, which has long been planned to reduce outer west urban sprawl.
The West Gate Tunnel won’t improve inner west air quality, outer west commuter travel times will be marginal; a few new bike paths do not compensate inner cyclists for the additional traffic; its impact of port efficiencies will be marginal; we all will pay additional tolls; car culture will continue its stranglehold.
The West Gate Tunnel is a Transurban plan, not a Labor plan. The Victorian Government electoral mandate was to reorient road freight away from the CBD and off residential streets, including a West Gate Distributor. Instead we are faced with this traffic sewer that will turn into the same monster we thought Labor had defeated.
On 14 August the ABC and The Age both reported on the flawed business case for Melbourne’s West Gate Tunnel project as submitted to a Senate inquiry into existing and proposed toll roads in Australia by William McDougall (a transport planning consultant and previous advisor to the Victorian Government). The Age reporter notes that “the team that produced the dumped East West Link business case – repeatedly ridiculed by Premier Daniel Andrews – is the same group behind the West Gate Tunnel business case.”
The West Gate Tunnel has not received electorate approval, is not part of any long-term ALP strategic planning process; is not a fait accompli. There are better, cheaper, simpler solutions to inner west truck problems.
Do not disguise the 1960s ideal of radial motorways by dressing them up as ‘freight roads’, ‘bypass roads’ or ‘missing links’.
Labor must uphold its own strategic transport planning process. Not fail, like Napthine, by imposing the EW Link without an electoral mandate, duchessed by corporate interests.
With the Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) public submissions hearings on the West Gate Tunnel Environment Effects Statements finalised, and the final report delivered to Planning Minister Richard Wynne 27 October 2017, we ask our Andrews Labor Government to remove the pressure on our local member and Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne, and to re-scope the current Westgate Tunnel Project to focus on the original Westgate Distributor proposal taken to the election in the ALP Project 10,000 platform (2013).
Some key dates:
19 November 2013: Project 10,000 – Victorian Labor Transport Alternative Plan taken to the election,
30 April 2015: Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the Western Distributor.
May 2015 Transurban pitches $5.5B plan to build a new freeway in return for tolls plus a 10-15 year CityLink contract extension (CityLink took revenue of $143 million in the first three months of 2015 and is the second most profitable toll road in the world.)
26 May 2017: Terms of reference for Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) signed by Richard Wynne.
10 July 2017: Public submissions on the West Gate Tunnel Environment Effects Statement (EES) close.
14 August 2017: IAC public hearings commence.
23 October 2017: Final IAC report delivered to Planning Minister Richard Wynne.
Mid November: Minister Wynne’s assessment of IAC report.