Friday, November 7, 2008

Melbourne transport blueprint in doubt -

Marc Moncrief, Paul Austin and Katharine Murphy

PLANS for a dramatic redesign of Melbourne's transport system may have to be scaled back as Canberra threatens to take off the table billions of dollars promised for major projects.

A day after saying the global financial crisis had blown a "$40 billion hole" in his budget over four years, federal Treasurer Wayne Swan yesterday said at least $14billion earmarked for major projects was under threat.

Victoria is relying on a share of the money to build massive congestion-busting projects such as those recommended in Sir Rod Eddington's $20billion Melbourne transport blueprint.

State Treasurer John Lenders said yesterday Victoria was expecting at least $10billion in spending announced in May's federal budget. He said that if the money was not forthcoming, it would undermine the transport plan, expected to be released within weeks.

"If the Commonwealth does not put money into the state of Victoria, clearly the transport plan will be a smaller plan than it otherwise would be," he said.

Sir Rod's plan, released in April, includes a $9billion toll road linking the western suburbs to the Eastern Freeway and a $7billion rail tunnel from Caulfield to Footscray...

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