West Gate Tunnel roadblock criticised


Transport, business and community groups slam political move

West Gate Tunnel roadblock criticised
The West Gate Bridge won’t last forever

 

The Victorian Upper House rejection of the West Gate Tunnel Project has been followed by a truck jackknife in the crucial Burnley Tunnel, causing gridlock, to emphasise Melbourne’s freight route shortcomings.

The opposition Coalition and Greens combined to revoke planning permission for the West Gate Tunnel in a move some see as purely political and another example of dysfunctional politics besetting the state.

Frustrated responses came from diverse quarters, even though the action is unlikely to halt works.

"It’s a sad day for Victorians that parliamentarians have used a political process to overturn a planning decision that would finally have led to a much-needed second Yarra River crossing," Victorian Transport Association (VTA) CEO Peter Anderson says.

"The West Gate Bridge will not last forever.

"With the West Gate Tunnel, after 10 years of no major road construction in Victoria, we finally had a workable solution to congestion woes around the Port of Melbourne and an alternative to the West Gate Bridge.

"With over four million people, and our city forecast to become the nation’s biggest in a matter of years, we cannot afford to lose yet another major infrastructure project to partisan politics."

The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) has also been a supporter, for the same reasons as the VTA.

"This project will deliver a much needed second river crossing, cut travel times, reduce congestion and boost liveability in Melbourne’s West and Geelong," VECCI chief executive MarkStone says.

"The Government was elected with a mandate to deliver important projects like this one. Contracts have been signed, work has started and the project should proceed."

VECCI points to benefits for western suburban commuters, freight, and export industry.

"Importantly, the project will create 6,000 new jobs, including 500 jobs for people entering the workforce, and up to 150 jobs for former auto workers," it says.

"It will also remove trucks from roads in inner-west suburbs, improving environmental and health outcomes for residents."

The last point adds to a sense of acute betrayal colouring the response from local anti-port-traffic lobby Maribyrnong Truck Action Group (MTAG) which says it is "bitterly disappointed" in its long-term ally, The Greens.

"Will this stop the project? Highly unlikely. Transurban has a contract with the government to build and operate the road, and construction has started," MTAG says.

"Even The Greens say that disallowing the planning approval will not stop the works. Planning experts have suggested that it risks peeling away a layer of scrutiny over the new toll road.

"Unfortunately this is just another chapter in the bizarre and unhelpful politicization of the infrastructure needed to take trucks off residential streets in Melbourne’s inner west.

"We were never naïve enough to think that The Greens would support a major new freeway for Melbourne. However they did support previous government plans for a truck bypass with on/off ramps that would create a more direct route for trucks to the Port of Melbourne from the West Gate Freeway.

"We always presumed The Greens would support us in our calls for the best possible outcomes from the West Gate Tunnel Project to protect residents.

"The project needs improved pollution mitigation such as filtration in its ventilation stacks. It also needs increased truck bans to protect residents on Millers Road in Brooklyn and Williamstown Road in Yarraville. These are things for which we continue to lobby."

 

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