Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sample submission content

As a resident/home/owner/taxpayer in Kensington, I am extremely concerned with reports I have been hearing about the proposed East-West Road Tunnel recommended by the Eddington Report. I am committed to living in this area for the foreseeable future and have two young children which I would like to grow up in Kensington. I would like to make a submission to the Department of Transport, East-West Transport Options Review opposing the unbelievably flawed and costly road tunnel plan in its entirety and have outlined my concerns below.

Questionable Opportunity, Enormous Cost

10 billion of tax payers’ money on an 18 kilometre tunnel is ludicrous and would be the most expensive public project ever undertaken. The tunnel has been identified as having an extremely low return on investment; both directly, and in the general Victorian economy. This money should be spent upgrading our public transport system which would cost less and be fairer to all Melbournians as it would encompass the greater metropolitan community, as well as working toward the Government’s 2030 Greenhouse Emissions plan. In private business a proposal with a cost benefit ratio of less than one would not even be considered. If this proposal is successful funds will not be available to develop public transport infrastructure for many decades. A questionable benefit is being sought at a guaranteed enormous cost to our urban environment.
Impact on Holland Park, Kensington

JJ Holland Park is the only large open space in Kensington. It is currently used by many different sporting and recreational groups and this is set to increase dramatically as the current Kensington baby boomers (babies born in an influx over the last five years) reach school age: it is expected that prep aged children will increase by at least five-fold in the next 2 years at local schools. Due to the drought there are less sporting grounds available and JJ Holland Park is fully booked by various sporting and recreational groups. The park is currently one of the most popular meeting places for parents, their children and numerous dog owners in Kensington. The Melbourne City Council, recognising it importance to local residents, is currently investing millions of dollars upgrading the park as a community hub.

The proposed use of parkland (Royal Park, and in particular JJ Holland Park) for the construction of the tunnel, and the possibility of the destruction of this parkland for open road culverts to "enhance the driver experience" is obscene, and should never have been suggested.

Impact on Amenities Located at the Fringe of JJ Holland Park

Melbourne City Council has poured millions of dollars into upgrading the Kensington community hub; park amenities, a child care centre and the current sports pavilion is set to be upgraded. Also contained within the park are several amenities which would be affected by the tunnel construction.

KCCC (Kensington Community Crèche Cooperative) is situated within the park.
It would be impossible to continue operating a creche adjacent to a major construction site which will propagate air pollution from the disturbance of asbestos contaminated soil and dust, noise pollution, and traffic woes.

Noise and air pollution from a tunnel portal in or near JJ Holland Park would also spell an end to the crèche’s operation.

The population has significantly risen and is set to increase dramatically as the current Kensington baby boom continues. This will place even greater demand on the child care centre in future years.

The KCCC currently has a waiting list of 450 children.

YMCA Kensington Recreation Centre and The Venny, Adventure Playground are also located
within JJ Holland Park and would not be able to operate if major building works were taking place in or near the park.

The skateboard park located at the south-west corner of JJ Holland Park is well used and one of the few meeting places for teenagers in the area. It will be destroyed if the park is to be used as a staging post during tunnel construction.

JJ Holland Park Housing Estate located just behind the creche houses over 1000 public and private residents. These residents and adjacent home owners will be affected by air pollution from the disturbance of asbestos contaminated soil and dust, noise pollution, and increased traffic.

Disturbance of Asbestos Contaminated Soil

If JJ Holland Park is used as a staging point, as suggested by the report, large areas of it would become unusable due to construction activity, noise and the storage of soil during construction. The soil in the area is known to be contaminated with asbestos and any disturbance of it would impact on or eliminate the use of the park for recreational and/or childcare purposes for obvious health reasons. This could also directly impact local residents and anyone passing through the vicinity (including the Werribee, Williamstown and Watergardens train lines, as well as V-Line services.

Impact on Parkville and Kensington Property Prices

In addition to the loss of amenity I am also concerned about the impact that any development in both Parkville and Kensington will have on my property investment. It has been suggested that large tracts of parkland will be lost if the tunnel proposal goes ahead. This will adversely impact on property value due to the reduced livability of the surrounding areas.

Impact on wetlands and environmentally sensitive areas

The impact on inner city wetlands and parks would be immeasurable. Melbourne prides itself on its beautiful parkland but these are being increasingly encroached on by overdevelopment. Royal Park is being eroded by the expansion of the Royal Children’s Hospital. The Royal Park wetlands and the Newells Paddock Wetlands Park in Footscray are home to many species of birds and other water based life. To destroy these wetlands and parklands reduces quality of life, not only for the species we have left, but also for its human residents. Once these places are gone, they are gone forever. The wetlands and parklands immeasurably enrich the inner-city areas.

Emphasis on Private Vehicle Use versus Public Transport.

I am disappointed by the fatalism of Eddington Report's recommendations and, in particular, its emphasis on the development of private vehicle use, rather than public transport. Freeways do not reduce car use; they encourage it! City Link is the perfect example. The development of the South-Eastern arterial has done little to solve the problems of the past as evidenced by the severe traffic congestion during morning and afternoon peak hours.. The only way to effectively reduce traffic on roads is to move people out of cars and into mass-transportation. At a time when we are mindful of the use of fossil fuels due their increasing scarcity, rising cost and impact on the environment, we need to be more creative with our solutions to the problems we are faced with.

Pollution: Exhaust Stacks and Government Policy 2030 reducing Greenhouse emissions.

These monstrosities will be an unfortunate by-product of the proposed tunnel. City Link has already shown us that these spew concentrated pollution over the local population causing related health issues. The Government has promised to reduce Greenhouse emissions by 60% by 2030. I think that in the current environmental crises, the last thing any government should be doing is encouraging people to drive more. Indeed, a car-filled tunnel goes against the State Government's own greenhouse gas and sustainability.

Develop our Public Transport Network!

As a tax payer I believe that the 10 billion dollars of public money that the East-West Link would cost would be far better spent developing our public transport network. Melbourne’s public transport system is under-utilised because of its poor coverage and unreliability.
If a fraction of 10 billion dollars was spent enhancing our public transport system, new roads would not be necessary. Public transport would be safe and reliable; an enviable world class transport system. Our tax money would be shared with all residents of Melbourne; not just wasted on one incredibly flawed and costly project.

The metropolitan rail network is currently running at less than half its designed capacity. In the 1930’s it was running a larger volume of trains than it does currently and it was designed to carry much higher numbers than it does today. Investment in improving the existing infrastructure and its use would surely be a wiser and more cost-effective use of taxpayer money.
The identified budget of the tunnel would be far-better spent in other areas to help solve Melbourne's transport issues. For example a new train line to Doncaster and an extension of the Glen Waverly line to Rowville, as well as the creation of more over/underpasses in order to improve traffic flows.

The government should look at previous, similar reports, which suggested a much greater focus upon a public-transport focused solution.
I urge you to consider my submission and choose the enhancement of our public transport system over the costly and environmentally destructive Eddington Report proposal.

I am conscious that no solution will be quick, and that it will take a lot of time and effort, as well as change in community attitude to reduce current transport issues; however, the construction of another road link is NOT a solution which should be undertaken.

Yours Sincerely,


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