The Australian Labor Party has released its $1.7 billion road package for Victoria, but the Metro Ring Road “missing” North East Link doesn’t get a mention.
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Plan focused on outer-metropolitan and regional roads
The plan acknowledges that Melbourne is the fastest growing city in Australia, with growth projected to be 1,700 people a week.
The focus in regional areas is on freight, with 27 percent of national freight movements on the National Land Transport Network within Victoria.
Labor’s plan commits to $510 million for the Monash Freeway, to widen from Warrigal Road to Eastlink, and east of Clyde Road. The works will include the installation of freeway management technology.
The plan proposes completing the widening the remaining sections of the M80 Western Ring Road and Metropolitan Ring Road, totalling 38 kilometres, at a cost of $356 million. That includes Princes Highway to Western Highway, Sydney Road to Edgars Road and Plenty Road to Greensborough Highway.
No mention is made of any planning or construction of the North East Link, to connect the Metropolitan Ring Road at Greensborough to the Eastern Freeway and Eastlink.
The growth package is focussed on four roads nominated by councils within the National Growth Areas Alliance – a campaign supported by RACV. Three of the projects were also identified by RACV in our 2012 report, Growing Pains in Outer Melbourne and Geelong. The four roads are:
- Thompsons Road – Stage 2. Duplication with three lanes in each direction (six lanes in total). It also promises to build a fully grade-separated interchange at its intersection with Western Port Highway, which has been a recurring Redspot in the RACV Redspot Survey. The projects also involves upgrading the intersections with Dandenong – Frankston Road and Narre Warren – Cranbourne Road. ( $85 million)
- a diamond interchange for O’Herns Road on the Hume Freeway, and duplication of O’Herns Road. ($67 million)
- duplicating Bridge Inn Road in Mernda ($90 million)
- duplicating a section of Craigieburn Road in Craigieburn, from Dorchester Road to Hanson Road. ($20 million)
Labor also commits to providing the funding for the Murray Basin Freight Rail Upgrade (220 million). This involves strengthening and standardisation of rail lines to the Murray Basin region.
Importantly, the Labor Party has committed to continuing with the duplication of the Princes Highway East to Sale, Princes Highway West to Winchelsea, Western Highway duplication to Stawell, and Western Highway safety upgrades Stawell to South Australia. The safety upgrades on the Western Highway, west of Stawell, support RACV’s call to improve safety on this section of highway to move it to a three-star standard.
Labor’s announcement does not mention completing the duplication on the Princes Highway West between Winchelsea and Colac, within the marginal electorate of Corangamite.
Other regional road projects include:
- duplicating Barwon Heads Road, from Settlement Road to Reserve Road. This includes grade separation at the railway line.
- upgrading three intersections along the Shepparton Alternative Route, with new roundabouts, turn lanes and road widening. There’s no commitment to Shepparton Bypass.
- planning for works on the Midland Highway between Castlemaine and Harcourt, and between Bannockburn and Geelong.
This announcement is welcome in that in largely matches the existing Coalition commitments to Victoria for major projects, but then adds new funding for arterial road upgrades that will make a real difference to many Victorians living in Melbourne, Geelong and Shepparton.
Notable absences are that there are NO commitments to:
- Metro Ring Road – North East Link
- Shepparton Bypass
- duplicating the Princes Highway West between Winchelsea and Colac.
With no mention of public transport, we trust that Labor is planning to make further statements well in advance of the 2016 Federal Election.