Victoria to set aside Western Distributor in Budget


Andrews says cash will be set aside to provide certainty to community

Victoria to set aside Western Distributor in Budget
Western Distributor Project involves tunnels and raised roadways in Melbourne’s inner east.

 

The Victorian government will set aside an extra $1.46 billion in the 2016-17 Budget to ensure the Western Distributor Project is built.

In doing so, it acknowledges federal government funding is yet to be agreed.

"We will build the long-overdue second river crossing, and cut travel time from Geelong by 20 minutes," premier Daniel Andrews says.

"Although we will continue to advocate for the Turnbull government to partner with us on this project, we simply cannot wait to get on with delivering it, and we’re getting it done with or without their support."

For the federal government’s part, it is happy to talk, but not about grants.

"The Victorian Government's announcement that it will provide the full funding required to build the Western Distributor project is confirmation of the position the Turnbull Government has taken on this project – because its economics are underpinned by tolls, both on the new components and through an extension of the CityLink toll concession, it is not a project which requires grant funding from the Commonwealth," major projects minister Paul Fletcher says.

"Of course the Turnbull Government is strongly committed to Victorian infrastructure, which is why we committed $1.5 billion last Friday to vital infrastructure projects in a formal offer to the Victorian Government.

"This includes vital projects such as a one billion dollar upgrade of the Monash Freeway, and a further $700 million towards the full upgrade of the M80 Orbital.

"We look forward to working cooperatively with the Victorian Government to progress these vital infrastructure projects as quickly as possible.

"Premier Andrews says the project warrants Commonwealth investment: the Turnbull Government stands ready to discuss innovative investment proposals with the Victorian Government, such as providing a concessional loan, or taking equity."

The government and road services firm Transurban have also signed an agreement on processes for the tender, planning and engagement stages and announced the establishment of the Western Distributor Authority

Designs include five ramp options to connect the West Gate Freeway directly to Hyde Street, with a view to handling dangerous goods trucks, as they can’t travel in a tunnel.

They will continue to be refined as planning progresses and in light of community and other feedback, the government says.

Community consultation sessions are due to start in affected suburbs between Saturday and May 3 to discuss design options, while online consultation starts today at http://www.westerndistributorproject.vic.gov.au/

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