VTA backs $5.5 billion Western Distributor Project


The Victorian government’s plans to connect Geelong to Pakenham gets industry approval

VTA backs $5.5 billion Western Distributor Project
VTA's CEO Peter Anderson.

 

The Victorian government has announced a new partnership with Transurban to build the $5.5 billion Western Distributor Project, a move backed by the Victorian Transport Association (VTA).

The road project, which will connect the West Gate Freeway with CityLink, aims to take up to 6,000 trucks off the West Gate Bridge and improve access to the Port of Melbourne.

"For too long, Victoria’s heavy vehicle operators have had to rely on a West Gate Bridge that is plagued by congestion and delays, underscoring the urgent need for a second river crossing with more efficient access to the Port of Melbourne," VTA CEO Peter Anderson says.

"The VTA, through ongoing consultation with Transurban and other stakeholders has been satisfied that the project will address these congestion concerns and provide significantly improved access to the ports area."

Under the proposed project, the West Gate Freeway will be widened from eight to 12 lanes between the M80 and Williamstown Road; a tunnel will be built under Yarraville; a second river crossing will be built over the Maribyrnong; an elevated road will be built along Footscray Road with access to the Port of Melbourne; and a 4.5km of cycling and pedestrian paths will be built.

Funding for the project will come from an extension of Transurban’s CityLink concession, state and federal contributions, and a toll on the new road.

To be completed by 2022, the project will encompass the Monash Freeway upgrade, scheduled to begin next year, and the Webb Dock construction, which will begin this month.

 

 

The Victorian minister for roads Luke Donnellan says the move will release trucks from travelling down residential streets.

"The Western Distributor will take 22,000 vehicles a day off the West Gate Bridge, including up to 6,000 trucks and improve links to the Port of Melbourne, Webb Dock and the inner north," Donnellan says.

However, it could mean a toll hike for transport businesses, Anderson says.

"While we do have a some reservations about a tolling regime on the new road that will likely see transport operators paying a large premium compared to other vehicles, the main thing is that the road is going to be built, and at long last Melbourne will finally have an alternative river crossing," he says.

"We look forward to further consultations with the road operator Transurban about a fair tolling arrangement for heavy vehicle operators that will encourage them to use the new road, instead of inappropriate suburban roads in the inner west of Melbourne."

The Victorian government believes it will save regular motorists 20 minutes during travel, while gaining $1.30 for every dollar invested.

 

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