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West Gate Tunnel – the dud that defies logic

The Victorian Government has been asked to rethink the West Gate Tunnel project.

Liberal Member for Western Victoria, Simon Ramsay, raised the matter in Parliament last night, requesting the Andrew’s Government put a stop to the project.

“This is a $5.5 billion shemozzle dreamt up by Transurban to secure future income with little thought given to finding a genuine traffic solution for Melbourne’s west.

“This project has had several names, taken different forms, inspired numerous panels, ignored public sentiment, filled pages of our local papers and – without being built – is already costing motorists in the form of increased and extended CityLink Tolls.

“Whether you use it or not, this project is already picking at your pockets,” said Mr Ramsay.

Senate hearings into Australia’s toll roads and current hearings into the projects’ environmental effects have heard from two transport experts who dispute the traffic modelling upon which the project is based.

“William McDougall and John Allard were both paid by the Government to independently assess the traffic modelling done by Veitch Lister Consulting.  Both believe the figures were over-estimated”.

Even former Labor Minister Justin Madden is doubting the proper planning around the project and its negative impact on urban renewal projects in the affected areas.

“The height of the Maribyrnong Bridge crossing is also in question with concerns it is not going to be built high enough to allow boats to go under the bridge at high tide.

“This is pretty basic stuff.  It is somewhat hard to believe,” Mr Ramsay said.

The Maribyrnong Council believes the river crossing lacks foresight, would block river views and spoil the precincts’ character and future public use potential.

A former government architect has also described the elevated highways as an ‘urban blight’.

“Even the Chair of the City of Melbourne’s Transport portfolio, Nick Frances Gilley, has called the tunnel project a “dog’s breakfast” and says the tunnel off-ramps will actually make traffic conditions worse.

“The Council’s own report says the tunnel will create 12-14 hours of peak-hour traffic in North Melbourne because the ramps will dump more traffic into the local streets.  It will also hurt tram operations.

“It is time for the Government to quit pretending everything is okay.

“The big losers in all of this are those travelling from regional Victoria who are stuck in the West Gate Bridge congestion and looking down upon the proposed mess below.”