Friday, December 5, 2008

Do we tunnel east to west?

RACV's pro-tunnel statement, in today's Herald Sun.

THERE has been widespread speculation the east-west road tunnel will not be included in the State Government's transport plan.

The RACV has a clear view that a road tunnel from the Eastern Freeway to CityLink, with an extension to join the Western Ring Rd, is an essential part of a rational and comprehensive transport plan for Melbourne's future.

The West Gate-Monash corridor is being upgraded, including five lanes each way on West Gate bridge with an active emergency management system in place, but Melbourne is now totally reliant upon this route.

If something happens along it - especially given it serves the Port of Melbourne - the entire metropolis grinds to a halt.

The Eddington east-west project will provide an essential alternative to the West Gate-Monash corridor and this will "future-proof" Melbourne long-term.

This project will also significantly reduce traffic through Parkville, the inner north and upper part of central Melbourne, improving the amenity for workers and residents in these vital areas. And there will be less delay to both traffic and public transport travelling north-south.

RACV is aware some commentators have said there is not enough through traffic to justify the tunnel.

We do not agree and are aware that the Eddington team reviewed previous studies, including the northern central city corridor work and came up with a contrary analysis.

The RACV is strongly urging the State Government to deliver the Eddington blueprint for this project in its entirety and not just "cherry-pick" selected parts suiting interest groups.

We have proposed a comprehensive suite of road and public transport projects and initiatives that are integral to getting Melbourne moving properly.

The key longer-term issues include strategies for land use, new outer road and public transport corridors on Melbourne's west and north, consideration of cross-town heavy and light rail options within 10km of the city.

We need a dedicated airport rail link, too.

The transport priorities we need delivered in the next decade include:

FINISHING the Metropolitan Ring Rd. The end at Greensborough must be joined to the Eastern Freeway and EastLink to provide a proper route around Melbourne.

BUILDING the east-west rail tunnel from Footscray to Caulfield.

MAKING key public transport and road improvements in the outer growth suburbs (see RACV's Connect Outer Melbourne report at

GOING ahead with the Tarneit rail line from west of Werribee, and joining the northern group of rail lines, to serve Wyndham and relieve V/Line congestion.

RELIEVING a blockage at the Frankston end of the Monash and EastLink freeways by building a bypass link to the Mornington Peninsula.

RACV has also proposed a ramp-up of the SmartBus network to cover the Doncaster corridor. New rail to South Morang and Epping must go ahead.

We're urging the Government to ensure that all these critical projects are in the transport plan and especially the complete east-west tunnel project.

A plan without this key project will not sufficiently ease Melbourne's congestion or improve life in the inner suburbs.

Brian Negus is RACV general manager public policy

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