Hope lingers for North East Link project


Infrastructure Victoria to present report on the project proposal by the end of the year

Hope lingers for North East Link project
Without making a formal commitment, Treasurer Tim Pallas says he sees "some sense" in the project.

 

While the recently unveiled Victorian Budget failed to make a commitment to the North East Link, there seems some hope for the project after Treasurer Tim Pallas said there was a "lot of merit to it".

Speaking at the Melbourne Press Club, Pallas says the state's independent major projects adviser, Infrastructure Victoria, will deliver a verdict on the project proposal by the end of the year.

The freeway project, which aims to provide a direct connection between Metropolitan Ring Road and the Eastern Freeway or the EastLink freeway, has been on transport industry’s agenda for a long time.

"If you look at the way that most modern cities operate, this idea of an outer suburban high capacity freeway network I think has a lot of merit to it," Pallas says.

"Innately, I think there is some sense in it."

RACV, one of the bodies pushing for project, says the new link will act an important freight route connecting centres around Dandenong with the Hume Highway, helping ease congestion along suburban streets and offering an alternative to Monash Freeway.

"It has been our number one road project for the last eight years," Negus says.

"While we supported the East West Link, the Metropolitan Ring Road was always our preferred proposal."

The proposed North East Link is expected to carry 100,000 vehicles a day and once built, the road will provide non-stop movement for all vehicles and alleviate the issues faced by freight operators today.

In February, RACV, the Victoria Transport Association (VTA), AusVEG and Resolve Rosanna Road resident action group made a joint call to the state government to begin work on the project as a matter of "urgent priority".

"Apart from reducing congestion, the North East Link will provide a significant boost to freight productivity by directly connecting the freight centre around Dandenong and the agricultural centres in Gippsland with the Hume Freeway, the new fruit and vegetable market in Epping, and other interstate corridors," Negus says.

The Budget revealed the state's $7 billion promise for road projects including duplicating Yan Yean Rd and Thompsons Rd, building the Western Distributor, upgrading the Monash Freeway, streamlining Hoddle Street, and for other projects to improve road safety and reduce congestion.

Plus, an additional $10.9 billion promised for the Melbourne Metro Rail project.

Pallas indicates the possibility of further asset sales to help fund infrastructure projects in the state.

"We intend over the course of this year and next year proving up the viability of certain assets - there are some that are on our horizon that we are looking at."

One of the most important sales for the government is the lease of the Port of Melbourne that aims to support the removal of 50 railway level-crossings around Melbourne and help build key transport infrastructure projects across regional Victoria.

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