Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Claims east-west tunnel will be of little value to Geelong -

Jeff Whalley

A MERE 1100 Geelong people a day would use a $8 billion road tunnel under Melbourne leading to the city's east.

Victorian Greens MP Greg Barber yesterday said Bureau of Statistics Census data showed less than 2 per cent of Geelong commuters would use the proposed road tunnel linking Melbourne's western and eastern suburbs.

The tunnel is one suggestion by transport expert Sir Rod Eddington in his east-west transport study aimed at solving Melbourne's traffic gridlock.

The tunnel has been slated as one solution to allow easier movement for commuters and freight into Melbourne.

Geelong MP Ian Trezise this week told the Geelong Advertiser the tunnel should include an exit for Geelong commuters wanting to access Melbourne's CBD.

Mr Barber criticised the State Government and Mr Trezise yesterday.

He said cash should instead be spent improving public transport within Geelong.

"I can't understand why a Geelong MP wants to spend $8 billion on a road tunnel from Kensington to Collingwood, used by less than 2 per cent of local commuters at best," Mr Barber said.

"Most workers, and shoppers for that matter, stay in Geelong. Local public transport in Geelong is appalling and with petrol prices, people are desperate for an alternative. We could have a dream public transport system, with trains, fast buses and even a tram line, for just one of these billions they are talking about.

"For commuters from Geelong to Melbourne, I would have thought more and faster trains was the priority. It's the only way to clear congestion off the West Gate Bridge, permanently."

Mr Barber said the data showed three-quarters of the Geelong region's 65,000 workers worked locally with about 3000 driving to Melbourne's western suburbs.

He said more than 2000 people drove to the Melbourne central business district or southern suburbs.

The Greens MP said only 1100 drove across Melbourne's north to the eastern suburbs, while at least 1800 used public transport to get from Geelong to Melbourne.

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