Transurban announces alternative proposal to the Andrews Government’s West Gate Distributor

May 4, 2015

Transurban announces proposal to build the Western Distributor Tollway.

In a surprise announcement Transurban, toll road operator and owner of Citylink, has released a proposal to build a massive $5billion tollway to connect the West Gate Freeway with the City Link tollway. The proposed tollway would replace the Andrews Government’s West Gate Distributor project which they took to November’s Victorian election.

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Transurban’s $5.0-5.5 billion proposal features:

  • A promise to remove up to 50% of trucks off residential streets in the inner west.
  • Tolls expected to be $3.00 for cars and $13.00 for trucks.
  • A tunnel from the West Gate freeway, near the Williamstown Road exit, under Yarraville that then surfaces in an industrial area near the Maribyrnong River that is currently used for container storage.
  • A new river crossing over the Maribyrnong River.
  • A new elevated tollway along Footscray Road linking to the existing City Link Tollway in the Footscray Road vicinity.
  • New connections to the Port of Melbourne and the CBD.
  • Widening of the West Gate Freeway between the West Gate Bridge and the Western Ring Road which will include tolls.
  • Claims that no properties or public open space will be lost.
  • Estimated to be completed around 2020.

Read More: http://www.transurban.com/files/MR_Western_Distributor_Proposal.pdf

How does this compare to the Andrew’s Government proposed West Gate Distributor?

The proposal costed at approx $500 million featured:

  • Promise to remove trucks off residential streets but no specifics given except for removing 5000 trucks a day from the West Gate Bridge.
  • Tolls for cars and trucks but no announcement on cost.
  • New on/off ramps from the West Gate Freeway through Stony Creek Reserve to Hyde Street.
  • Upgrades and widening of Hyde Street/Francis Streets and Whitehall Street.
  • Upgrades to Moreland Street and Napier Street.
  • Property acquisitions and loss of open space in Stony Creek reserve.
  • Estimated to be completed around 2018.

Read More: https://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/planning-and-projects/melbourne-road-projects/west-gate-distributor

Read More: http://mtag.org.au/solutions/the-westgate-distributor/

What does MTAG think?

This announcement took us, and everyone else except key Government officials, by surprise. We cautiously welcome the proposal but seek to understand the plan’s details. To date we haven’t had an opportunity to discuss this plan with the Government, VicRoads or Transurban. We have been contacted by Transurban who would like to meet with MTAG and we will be taking up this offer as soon as possible.

A tunnel under Yarraville will potentially have much less impact on our suburb’s amenity reducing noise and possibly pollution when compared to the Government’s West Gate Distributor proposal that would have trucks traveling at grade (road level). This new proposal means a longer wait for completion of the construction. MTAG believes the community has waited long enough and interim measures are needed now! These measures should include night and weekend curfews on Williamstown Road and Buckley Street, school crossing curfews on Francis Street and extension of weekend curfews to include Saturday mornings.

What are MTAG’s concerns regarding this new proposal?

  • Will the new tollway be complimented with truck bans on residential streets to ensure trucks use it?
  • Where will vent stacks from the tunnel be placed?
  • Will vent stacks just meet current standards or will they also meet future standards currenty under review under by the Commonwealth Government to also ensure fine particle emissions associated with diesel exhaust such as PM2.5 are filtered?
  • Without a blanket truck ban on residential streets will trucks just avoid tolls and continue to cut through our residential streets as they do to avoid tolls on the Bolte Bridge?
  • Will the tollway design (grades  and curves) be friendly to trucks to actually encourage them to use it?
  • Trucks carrying placarded loads (like those carrying hazardous and inflammable liquids to/from Mobil and other petrochemical facilities at Coode Island and Spotswood) are currently banned from existing tunnels. Will these trucks be banned from the Western Distributor tunnel and continue to use the Inner West’s residential streets?
  • How will residents on Moore St benefit from this project?
  • What does this proposal mean for Stage 1 of the West Gate Distributor as the State Government has already put this out to tender?
  • Once built will Francis Street be declared a local road and not a state highway?
  • The tunnel will not provide direct access onto the West Gate Freeway to and from the Hobsons Bay industrial precinct whereas the ramps would – is it likely that truck traffic from this area will continue to use residential streets in Maribyrnong?
  • What new noise mitigation measures will protect residents along a widened West Gate Freeway

Watch MTAG president Samantha MacArthur talking about this project here.

Will this Transurban proposal get built?

This is just a proposal for the moment. Our community has been promised many infrastructure proposals over the past 10 years including Westlink, the Truck Action Plan, The East/West freeway and the West Gate Distributor that were all promised to rid our streets of trucks. None of these have been built as yet. There’s a huge gulf between a plan and reality!

What’s the process now with this proposal?

Transurban’s media release states “Transurban CEO, Scott Charlton, advised the concept for the Western Distributor was submitted to the State Government earlier this year under Victoria’s new Market-led Proposals Interim Guideline. Transurban will now work with government through Stage 3 of the process, which is expected to take up to six months, whilst also commencing discussions with the local community and stakeholders.”

Transurban has opened a website where it is asking people to join the ‘conversation’. Only 44 comments have been received in the first 4 days. It’s here: http://consult.transurban.com/western-distributor-join-the-conversation

What’s MTAG doing about the proposal?

Initially we will meet with Transurban to discuss the project, ask questions and put forward our concerns. We will then seek to meet with state government representatives, VicRoads and Maribyrnong Council to learn more about the project and its potential benefits or impacts for our community in regard to solving the truck issue. We also encourage members of the community to tell us your thoughts either through email <info@mtag.org.au> or via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaribyrnongTruckActionGroup

Watch our website for updates as more information is released.

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