Monday, December 8, 2008

$6 billion super link -

EXCLUSIVE: THE biggest road project in Melbourne's history to connect the northern and eastern suburbs will spearhead today's transport plan.

The 9km North East Link, with tunnels under the Yarra River, will cost at least $6 billion - more than the combined cost of the CityLink and EastLink freeways.

But the Brumby Government won't say whether it will have tolls.

The road will link the Melbourne Ring Rd at Greensborough to the Eastern Freeway at Bulleen.

Tunnels will be bored for 4.5km from Rosanna to Bulleen to protect the environment and homes.

Premier John Brumby today will commit to the project, which will run through and under suburbs including Greensborough, Rosanna, Heidelberg and Bulleen.

The North East Link will be one of dozens of projects in the $38 billion transport plan.

Mr Brumby said the plan would eclipse recommendations by transport expert Sir Rod Eddington.

"This is a bigger plan, this is bigger than Eddington in terms of its scale, its impact, its investment, jobs, the profound changes it will make to our transport system," he told the Herald Sun.

Details of the plan already revealed by the Herald Sun include:

  • AN $8.5 BILLION rail link from Footscray to Caulfield.
  • THE Frankston bypass, to cost $700 million.
  • A ROAD tunnel under Footscray connecting to the port area, to cost several billion dollars.
  • THE $240 million plan to convert emergency lanes on the West Gate Bridge to regular traffic lanes.
  • A TRUCK route through inner-western suburbs to cost $380 million.
The eastern section of an inner-suburban east-west road tunnel is set to be shelved, with the Government convinced the North East Link would take significant pressure off Hoddle St and other arterial roads.

The Government is also considering a series of flyovers and underpasses to resolve Hoddle St bottlenecks.

At least half the North East Link will be tunnels while the rest of the freeway will use existing roads, which may need to be widened.

Dubbed the "missing link", the Melbourne Ring Rd would be lengthened from Greensborough to Rosanna before tunnels take traffic beneath the Yarra and under heritage areas including picturesque land around the Heide Museum of Modern Art.

The Government's preferred option is to minimise environmental damage at the Banyule Flats - the scene of many landscapes by the Heidelberg School of artists.

Planning for the North East Link will begin immediately but construction may have to wait until 2012.

The transport plan is crucial to the Government's future with road congestion and public transport chaos threatening to seriously undermine Labor's run to the 2010 election.

Some of today's projects will not begin until after 2010 but some smaller projects are likely to begin almost immediately.

Shadow transport spokesman Terry Mulder doubted Labor would deliver on the plan.

The Victorian Employers' Chamber of Commerce and Industry urged the Government to set down time limits for long-term projects.

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