According to The Age (24/6) the Victorian government has appointed planning expert David Vorchheimer to develop a new metropolitan planning strategy. The strategy review, which was foreshadowed during the 2010 election campaign, is expected to direct urban infrastructure spending for decades to come. It will map out where and when new transport links are to be built, including “where the next big rail project should be after the Regional Rail Link and the next freeway after Peninsula Link.”
In meeting with representatives of Friends of Banyule on 11 May, Parliamentary Secretary for Transport, Edward O’Donohue, reiterated that the North East Link which was included in the Labor government’s 2008 Victorian Transport Plan was not a coalition commitment. He did say, however, that preparatory desk work on North East Link commenced by VicRoads under the Labor government would be completed. It was less clear whether any government consideration of the North East Link project would await and depend upon the planning review to be headed by David Vorchheimer and which is reportedly to conclude in early 2013.
There are other studies to be undertaken by the Baillieu government which logically should contribute to the planning review, and which will greatly influence the prospects for a more sustainable transport system in Banyule and surrounding municipalities. These include consideration of a rail service between the Melbourne CBD and the fast growing Doncaster Hill activity centre and also between the Melbourne CBD and Melbourne Airport. Melbourne Airport generates the largest daily volumes of road traffic of any destination outside the CBD and the prospect of the doubling of air traffic in the next two decades makes more compelling the case for a high quality rail connection to the airport. It is particularly important for Banyule, as much of the road traffic to and from the airport travels through Banyule. These government initiatives are some of the more meritorious planning influences currently in evidence.
Other influences which could impact unfavourably on Banyule include the expansion in capacity on the Western Ring Road and the planning work currently being undertaken by VicRoads to widen the Tullamarine Freeway between the Western Ring Road and Melbourne Airport. The government should not be contemplating the widening of Tullamarine Freeway when much of the existing and future traffic on the freeway should be absorbed by a rail service.
Consideration has also been given under the previous state government to widening the Eastern Freeway between Tram Road and Bulleen Road. These actual and putative road projects will and would precipitate greater car dependency. They are also very expensive and have the effect of reducing the resources available for public transport and other more sustainable forms of transport.
The North East Link project is still on the table, and promoted by road lobbyists, even if currently hidden from view. As always, the battle lines are drawn with entrenched interests who, as ever, claim to “solve” road congestion by making incremental additions to road space. Those opposed see the folly in this. The roads “incrementalists” are becoming more out of date by the hour as population grows and the anthropogenically induced climate change crisis deepens.
Click here for The Age article “Baillieu reviews green wedges”
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