Clarifying the Sections of the East-West Link

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There has been a lot of confused commentary about the funding for the East West Link due to confused terminology used by the Victorian Government.

The most authoritative map appears on the Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure (DTPLI - see above) website and a broadly similar map appears in the federal budget. It shows three distinct sections:

  • Eastern Section (Stage 1): a 6km road that will connect the Eastern Freeway to CityLink – it is mostly in tunnel but both portals have high impact interchanges;
  • Port Connection: a 2.5km separate road that will connect CityLink to the Port of Melbourne. It is an elevated viaduct with high impact on housing and open space; and
  • Western Section (Stage 2): a  11.5km road that will connect the Port of Melbourne to the Western Ring Road – it will have tunnel, viaduct and surface sections.

The full East-West Link is described as an “18 kilometres motorway” but it measures 20kms from end to end plus the 1.5km section from Royal Park to north of Ormond Rd.

The official description (in the federal budget) says:

“The Australian Government has committed $1.5 billion for the Eastern Section of the motorway and has more recently committed a further $1.5 billion to accelerate delivery of the Western Section. Construction on the Eastern Section is expected to commence in late 2014 and be completed in 2020. Construction on the Western Section is expected to commence in late 2015 and be completed in 2023”.

Eastern Section (Stage 1)

  • This is referred to as Part A in the Comprehensive Impact Statement (CIS) and is the main section seeking planning approval;
  • This is the section which is subject to the current tender, and
  • It has been costed between $6 to $8.5 billion.

Port Connection

  • This is referred to as Stage 1 Part B in the CIS and is included in the planning approval;
  • It is not part of the current tender but “non conforming bids” have been invited;
  • It has not been separately costed, but is estimated to cost $2-3 billion, and
  • The funding for it has been included in the $8-10 billion cost of “the Western Section”.

Western Section (Stage 2)

  • This is referred to as Stage 2 in the CIS;
  • It has not developed to the point of having anything other than a “conceptual business case”. Planning and tendering has not commenced, but construction is scheduled by the end of 2015. There is no final route – the map assumes it follows the Westlink plan, and
  • It has been costed between $6 to $8.5 billion, but this seems to include the Port Connection.

WestLink is a previous design that reached the stage of planning consideration under the previous government. It is 11km running to Docklands’ Link Rd, which is about 1km short of where the Port Link Rd goes.

The government has said it is not reviving Westlink but has yet to nominate an alternative route or process for planning the EWLink Western Section. The government has said the Western Section will be built in “packages” and may not be done as a Public Private Partnership (PPP). They have not yet decided whether to collect the tolls directly (as for the Eastern Section) or make this part of the construction contract(s).

It will not be built by the Linking Melbourne Authority (LMA), which will only be responsible for the Eastern Section (and possibly the Port Connection). A new Western Section Office has been established to build the Western Section (which may include the Port Connection).

SUMMARY

The Port Connection has been planned as part of the Eastern Section but funded as part of the Western Section. It is not part of the current tender, but could be added as a non-conforming bid. Further, $1 billion is being paid to Victoria by the federal government for the Western Section which could be used to accelerate the Port Connection. 

 

 

 

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