Monday, October 6, 2008

Tollway alternative part of new roads plan

Clay Lucas and Jason Dowling

A NEW tollway would traverse either semi-rural Warrandyte, or run through the heart of Heidelberg, under controversial plans being devised for the State Government's transport strategy.

The Department of Premier and Cabinet is working with VicRoads on the project, which would see a new tollway connect the Metropolitan Ring Road — which finishes in Greensborough — to either the Eastern Freeway or EastLink.

Secrecy surrounds the Government's transport statement, due out in November.

But Government sources have told The Age the transport team is working on economic analysis of three route options for a major new tollway.

The routes are:

  • From Greensborough to the Eastern Freeway, running through Heidelberg; or
  • From Greensborough to EastLink in Ringwood, with the road running via Eltham and Warrandyte; or
  • Sir Rod Eddington's $9 billion road tunnel route from Clifton Hill to Footscray.

Roads Minister Tim Pallas met financiers Babcock and Brown last month to discuss funding possibilities for new tollways.

The State Government has recently polled residents in Eltham and Warrandyte on their support for a new road link, which would traverse some of the city's most environmentally sensitive areas.

And Government emails obtained by The Age show VicRoads is determined to retain land in Greensborough set aside for the ring road connection.

Nillumbik Council, which covers much of the area a new tollway would run through, opposes the project. Cr Greg Johnson said locals would fight a new freeway connection through the area.

As opposition leader in the 1990s, Premier John Brumby ruled out building a freeway along the proposed Nillumbik route.

"The ALP opposes this road on environmental grounds, and because of the enormous disruption it would cause to property owners whose homes would be demolished," Mr Brumby wrote in a 1995 letter.

One roads industry source said there was still an appetite to build major toll roads, despite the turmoil on financial markets.

And ConnectEast director Max Lay, a former senior VicRoads bureaucrat, said big toll road projects were "seen as a safe harbour for long-term investments".

News of the road plan comes as the Greens today launch their new $14 billion transport plan — along with a marketing campaign targeting Mr Brumby's support for new road infrastructure.

Under the Greens' People Plan, detailed in an extensive new website at, Melbourne's public transport system would be expanded dramatically. The plan includes new train lines to Doncaster, Mernda, Rowville and Melbourne Airport.

There would also be a major new CBD metro system, with new train stations built in the CBD at Kings Way and St Kilda Road, in the inner north at Parkville, Carlton and Fitzroy, and elsewhere.

And in an attack ad devised by South Melbourne ad agency Cyclone, Mr Brumby is portrayed as a mole, tunnelling to create "a profit plan for political survival".

Read the original article at

One person's discussion of the Greens' 'The People Plan' is here -

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