Chorus of concern over political tactics on infrastructure

Andrews threat focuses industry frustration at infrastructure politicisation

Chorus of concern over political tactics on infrastructure
Daniel Andrews' pre-election pledge has industry on edge


Growing concern in transport and other industries at the politicisation of the Victorian infrastructure debate had broken out into public criticism centred on the East West Link (EWL).

The upwelling of concern today follows State ALP leader Daniel Andrews’ threat to ditch the East West Link Project (Stage 1) contract should Labor be elected in November.

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) and the Property Council are but two organisations urging an ALP rethink on the EWL but this follows rumblings of unease in the ports sector over the its championing of the Bay West second port proposal.

VTA CEO Neil Chambers reinforced the strong industry view that a second Yarra River crossing is vital to relieve undue reliance on the already congested M1 corridor.

"There’s no denying that Melbourne has developed an over-reliance on the M1 corridor and the ramifications are easily seen when our road network grinds to a halt due to accidents or when the CityLink tunnels are unavailable to traffic.

"Over the coming decades, this situation will only worsen as Victoria’s freight task is expected to double and the containerised trade through the Port of Melbourne will triple.

"The only way Victoria will be able to manage this logistical challenge is if our political parties to look at the bigger picture and commit in a timely fashion to a pipeline of major projects to be built – the first being the eastern section of the East West Link with links to the Port of Melbourne."

Chambers notes the estimated $2.7 billion a year cost to the state of Melbourne congestion and that during peak periods, more than 50 per cent of road traffic uses 3 per cent of the freeway and arterial network, a large component of which is reliance on the M1 corridor.

Freeway modernisation means it is "imperative that further East West Link connections to the Port of Melbourne precinct and the M80 are delivered if the State is to secure its long term economic vitality".

Property Council (Victoria) executive director Jennifer Cunich echoed the VTA’s position on the M1.

"Melbourne needs a second river crossing which eases congestion on the M1 and addresses the shortcomings of the Eastern Freeway," she says.

"Infrastructure planning and development is not a political football. It is a vital component of good governance

"Decisions such as this only increase the likelihood of investment moving interstate where politics comes second to acting in the state’s interest.

"The abandonment of East West Link throws Melbourne’s long term road transport planning into deep uncertainty."

Not mentioned was the impact of the second container port on traffic flows along with the whole question of where it will be sited after Labor ditched Hastings port for Bay West.

It is understood that Ports Australia is singularly unimpressed by the investment uncertainty created by the Opposition on this matter in a climate where the ports community is striving for certainty in long term ports and corridor planning.

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