The eastern section of East West Link will connect the Eastern Freeway and CityLink.It will include twin tunnels under Alexandra Parade, Princes Street, the Melbourne General Cemetery, Princes Park and Royal Park. Construction is expected to be complete by 2019. The eastern section of East West Link is budgeted at $6.8 billion.
The western section of the East West Link will extend the East West Link from CityLink to the Western Ring Road. Detailed planning of the western section is due to commence in 2014. Even if the western section of East West Link was fully funded tomorrow, it would not be completed until somewhere between 2020 to 2025. Without funding, the timeframe for completion will be considerably longer. The western section of East West Link is estimated to cost $8-10 billion.
The Government has said, “The East West Link will encourage more trucks onto appropriate roads and away from local streets. This will in turn help to improve the flow of freight across the city, and reduce the cost of doing business. The project will improve connections between industry in Melbourne’s north, east and west with national and international markets via the Port and airports.”
Placarded trucks such as petrol tankers and High Productivity Freight Vehicles (HPFVs) will not be able to use the East West Link tunnel.
Watch a video about the Western end of East West Link here.
What MTAG thinks
It is difficult to see how the eastern section of East West Link will remove trucks from residential streets in the inner west. MTAG wrote to the Minister for Transport asking him to explain how this would be achieved. He has not answered.
MTAG is not the only organisation to have these concerns. In a submission to the planning panel that considered the project, the Port of Melbourne Corporation predicted that the eastern section of East West Link would trigger a boom in truck traffic in Melbourne’s inner west when it opens, intensifying conflict between residents, councils and the freight industry and building political pressure to restrict truck access to local roads.
The western section of the East West Link may help get trucks out of some parts of the inner west. However, at a cost of $8-10 billion, it might not be the best use of limited resources, and would restrict the amount of money available for other initiatives.
MTAG is also wary of bigger and bigger roads as being the solution. Past projects including the Western Ring Road, Westgate Freeway and CityLink have only added to our truck problems and concentrated rat runs through our residential areas.
MTAG reserves its judgment regarding western section of the East West Link until the final design, showing the location of the tunnel entry and exit points and ventilation stacks, has been released.