Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Second look at tunnel plan -

by Clay Lucas

A TRANSPORT planning firm hired by the State Government to assess the need for a $9 billion road tunnel from Footscray to Clifton Hill has been hired again: to give a second opinion on its own figures.

Veitch Lister, a Brisbane-based traffic modelling consultancy that specialises in predicting traffic flows, worked on Rod Eddington's Investing in Transport plan.

Sir Rod said in April that the $9 billion road tunnel, which would link the Western Ring Road to CityLink and then the Eastern Freeway, should be built. His study relied on Veitch Lister's traffic figures to show there were enough motorists travelling between the eastern and western suburbs to justify building the 18-kilometre-long tollway.

Sir Rod's finding contradicted a 2003 government study, which showed that demand did not justify the expenditure.

That study made traffic counts, and analysed the data. The Veitch Lister study for the Eddington report did not do any on-the-ground collection of data.

Veitch Lister was among a group of seven consultants, paid a total of $2.9 million, that advised Sir Rod.

Veitch Lister was hired again in June by the Government to work on its coming transport plan in response to Sir Rod's study — even though the Department of Transport has its own highly experienced traffic modelling team.

A number of submissions to the Government in response to Sir Rod's report criticised Veitch Lister's modelling because it ignored the impact of rising fuel prices and public transport patronage.

A Government spokeswoman last night said Veitch Lister was a respected transport modelling firm that regularly did government work.

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