CONSTITUENCY QUESTION & RESPONSE | WEST GATE TUNNEL PROJECT

Mr MELHEM (Western Metropolitan): My constituency question is to the Minister for Roads and Road Safety, the Honourable Luke Donnellan — what a fine minister. I allude to the recent actions taken by the Liberals and the Greens to attempt to halt construction of the West Gate tunnel project. I proudly spoke against that motion in this place this morning and made it clear that the people of the west cannot wait for this project to commence. There are currently 700 jobs on site and 6000 expected to be created throughout the life of the project. This project is providing good, reliable jobs to the people in my electorate, many of whom are recently retrenched ex-auto workers. The west is the fastest growing area in Victoria. We need a second river crossing in order to service the imminent population boom and associated traffic. Without this project we risk a future of increased congestion and reduced amenity in the western suburbs. My question for the minister is: what will it mean for my constituents of Western Metropolitan Region if this project does not go ahead?

21 February 2018

Response:

Mr DONNELLON: The Victorian Government is building the West Gate Tunnel Project to address some of Melbourne’s biggest transport and planning challenges.

If these challenges are not addressed, there will be significant impacts for Melbourne’s west.

The West Gate Bridge already carries around 200 000 vehicles every day — in less than 15 years that number will soar to around 250 000. That’s tremendous growth in the Western Metropolitan Region and it’s only going to increase.

Without the West Gate Tunnel Project, road network performance in Melbourne’s west will deteriorate significantly with widespread congestion and delays.

Travel times between the west and the Port of Melbourne or the inner north will be much longer. For example, a trip from Werribee or Melton to the inner north will be at least 20 minutes slower than it is today.

As Victoria’s economy continues to grow, so too does the Port of Melbourne’s freight task, which is expected to triple by 2050. Truck volumes are forecast to increase by up to 9000 a day on the West Gate Freeway and West Gate Bridge, with large increases also expected on Francis Street and Buckley Street.

The city centre and inner north will be affected, as more trucks will be accessing North Melbourne via Dynon Road and travelling from the Port to the West Gate Freeway via Wurundjeri Way.

Population increases in the west are some of the highest in the nation. Taken together, the poor performance of the west’s road network will reduce access to workplaces, schools and hospitals. A continuing decline in travel times and reliability on the freight network will also increase costs for businesses.

For the rest of the State, poor access to the Port of Melbourne will reduce the competitiveness of Victoria’s exports and undermine Melbourne’s position as Australia’s premier freight and logistics hub.

By 2031, the impact of an overstretched bridge will be felt right along the M1 corridor, from Geelong to Pakenham. Without an alternative to the bridge, Melbourne will grind to a halt.

This is why we’re getting to work on the West Gate Tunnel Project now, to change the way people and freight move around Melbourne and preserve our city’s world-renowned liveability.

1 May 2018