Sunday, August 3, 2008

Transport solutions no walk in the park - The Melbourne Times July 30

The Premier braved a frosty reception at a threatened park. Bianca Hall reports

Dogwalkers were out in force despite the frosty morning air when Premier John Brumby visited Kensington's JJ Holland Park last week.

Fringed by native trees, the park provides a sanctuary for thousands of people living in highrise towers, young families, local sporting clubs and the always present dogwalkers.

Residents' groups have accused Melbourne MLA Bronwyn Pike of ignoring their concerns about the park's future if the Government goes ahead with a $10 billion freeway and road tunnel linking the Eastern Freeway with the Western Ring Road.

Sir Rod Eddington's report identifies JJ Holland Park and Royal Park as staging areas for the tunnel, so on Thursday Ms Pike brought her boss to Kensington to see just what was at stake.

As they walked, the pair was constantly reminded of the community's outrage at the tunnel proposal.

The Greens have distributed thousands of "No Road Tunnel" signs to residents. The green triangles line the windows of the Kensington Community Centre [That would be the childcare centre actually- ED], located in the park, and dominate the windows of nearby homes.

"So as you can see, there's a few protest signs around the place," Ms Pike said.

Mr Brumby gave a short nod.

"I saw a few driving past... Anyone who lives near a park would want to keep their park I understand that," he said.

Mr Brumby said it was impossible to guarantee that parkland would be retained if the runnel was constructed.

"I can never make guarantees that no public space will ever be affected, and in a sense it's a hypothetical question," he said.

"You know, we haven't made a decision about the tunnel or any of the projects in (the) Eddington (report), and we may proceed or we may not.

"If we don't (proceed), well the issue wouldn't arise, so I'm not in a position to answer hypothetical questions, but I am in a position to get all the information so that we make a balanced decision."

Mr Brumby acknowledged his Government had a tough policy problem on its hands.

"We've had record growth in public transport, and to be fair, no one could have foreseen that petrol prices would be $1.70 a litre," he said.

"The world price of oil four years ago was $25 a barrel, and now it's $130 a barrel, so we've seen just huge an rapid growth."

However, the Government appears set to disappoint innercity campaigners who want an embargo on new roads and billions channelled into public transport.

"Is it true to say that we're never going to need another road?" Mr Brumby asked.

"I mean, it's not. You've got to kee investing in public transport as the ci continues to grow, but we've also got use our infrastructure more efficiently."

"And if you look out in the eastern suburbs at the moment ... you can't find a soul there who doesn't think EastLink not fantastic, because all of the suburban roads now are carrying 30-40 per cent less traffic."

"Properly designed major road projects can take a lot of pressure off suburban streets and improve quality of life."

You know, I'm not sure the people in the Eastern suburbs who don't have access to good public transport, and are forced to use their cars, would think that EastLink is so fantastic. (see yesterday's article from TheAge.)

Also, not too sure if noone forsaw the $1.70 a litre petrol - perhaps it just came a little faster than some expected?

I've emailed Bronwyn Pike, regarding her EWLNA submission. I've yet to have a response. I might post my email to her up here in a few days... If she brought Brumby to the park to try and let him see the possible repurcussions, good on her. Alternatively, if she brought him here to make it look like that was what she was doing... well... I don't think that needs a comment. (I don't know... she hasn't replied to my email).

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