New port trumps new roads for Victorian citizen jury

Infrastructure body finds public split on road freight infrastructure but bullish for port shift

New port trumps new roads for Victorian citizen jury
The citizen jury believes a new port in necessary


Public support for road freight infrastructure is split two to one according to Infrastructure Victoria’s citizen jury report.

But the 40 members of the ‘jury’ were almost of one mind regarding a second port that would shift port-related truck congestion out of the centre of town, the Citizen Jury Metropolitan Infrastructure Recommendations report says.

Infrastructure Victoria stamped the Eastern Freeway Citylink connection (EWE) and the North-East Link (NEL) as ‘mixed endorsement’ – below ‘moderate’ and ‘strong’ but above a rejection.

But the new port gained ‘strong endorsement’ and ‘high priority’ designations, as did the need for an overall pricing review to manage demand for travel at peak/non-peak times across the entire rail and road network.

Of the two road projects, there was more support for the North-East Link, an item high on the Victorian Transport Association’s most crucial infrastructure list.

One-third of the jury was against any road building, due to cost and a wish to move away from roadbuilding in future, the report emphasises.

But this positon softened somewhat when designated as completing existing roads and the existing freeway network.

  • While consensus was unable to be found as positions were entrenched, the slim majority backed them due to:
  • improved connectivity across the city from east to west, and east to north
  • meets the objective of prepare for population, facilitating movement across the city
  • improves access to economic hubs, including airports, ports, etc
  • lifts productivity with more efficient freight movement
  • reduces bottle necks
  • reduced truck travel reducing emissions
  • improves amenity of adjoining suburbs with freight removed from suburban
  • reduces reliance on M1 corridor.  

Another freight-related road project that did get a ‘medium priority’ stamp, was links from M79 (Calder Hwy) and M80 (Ring Road) to western side of airport to link with existing freight precinct and any proposed new international air terminal.

No such doubt attends having a new Melbourne container port (NCP) rather than expanding it.

This gained support as:

  • freight is shifted away from the inner city, subsequently reducing traffic  
  • the port and freight export and import capacity is increased, raising productivity 
  • it spreads freight across a new port moves capacity out of inner Melbourne, meaning greater livability
  • it prepares for population growth with increased capacity and allowing for newer and properly planned supporting infrastructure.

The report’s researchers note that this option – indeed, all port/freight options – benefits significantly from the implementation of EWE and NEL to work properly in transporting goods to and from any port.

The jury endorses Port of Melbourne metropolitan container shuttle rail optionas an interim measure to support freight movement until the development of a second port.

But it remains open to the existing-port expansion  option, "noting Infrastructure Victoria’s requirement for further development of the NCP option".

The jury "also notes the need for rail and road freight infrastructure support for any new port and contrasts this with the need for inner-city freeways for Port of Melbourne".

Teh full report can be found here.

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