Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Expert casts doubt on road tunnel plan

Gotta love the image of the EastLink, now that the tolls are operating...

A NEW road tunnel is not the best solution for Melbourne's growing population and the Government needs to focus on public transport, a world expert in urban planning warns.

Cassio Taniguchi, secretary for the Department of Urban Development and Environment in Brasilia, said public transport was a cheaper, less polluting investment that would ultimately move more people.

"You must give priority to the mass transit system, to the public transportation system more than a road system, more than road networks," Mr Taniguchi said.

Mr Taniguchi is in Melbourne to deliver a lecture on the future of cities at Melbourne University tonight. It is his second visit to Melbourne.

Speaking to The Age, he praised Melbourne's tram network and the State Government's Melbourne 2030 plan. But he questioned the wisdom of a new tunnel, such as that recommended by engineer Sir Rod Eddington to link the eastern and western suburbs.

Mr Taniguchi was mayor of the Brazilian city of Curitiba from 1997 to 2004.

Curitiba's rapid transit bus system now carries 70-75% of the 3 million people who live in and around the city. With a smartcard ticket system, buses are given priority everywhere and passengers pay a standard fare.

Mr Taniguchi said Melbourne's growth, of about 1500 people a week, reminded him of growth experienced in Curitiba in the 1960s.

"We had to act very, very quickly to avoid the biggest problems in most developed country cities - I mean slums, poor infrastructure conditions, sanitation and so on," he said.

Read the original article at TheAge.com.au

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