What's wrong with the East-West toll road

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Melbourne has a congestion problem which impacts on businesses and families.

Our morning and afternoon peak periods are now half an hour longer than they were in 2005. Our traffic speeds have also slowed by at least 11 km per hour during these peak periods. Unless we do something, the estimated cost of traffic in Melbourne is expected to rise to $6.1 billion by 2020.

The East-West toll road proposed by the current Napthine government has been described as a ‘congestion-busting’ road, but local and international research has repeatedly shown new roads eventually increase traffic, and that any congestion relief is relatively short-lived.

In contrast, current and proven evidence from transport experts, along with studies of international cities, shows only investment in public transport will truly address congestion on our roads as well as delivering greater economic benefits.

The “Public Transport Not Traffic” campaign is a coalition of community groups seeking immediate and substantial investment in Victoria’s public transport system, rather than wasteful spending on a toll road that will be expensive, dangerous and won’t fix the traffic crisis on our streets.

There are significant and dire flaws with this proposed project, which will cost all Victorians. We hold grave concerns regarding the following issues with the East-West toll road.

Lack of transparency: No business case

The business case justifying the project is not publically available, and the government says it will not be made available for commercial-in-confidence reasons. However, this is out of step with usual practice, for government projects – such as the WestConnex road proposed in Sydney, where over 20 boxes of documents were released recently to show the business case. The East-West toll road cannot be properly assessed until the business case is publically available.

Bad investment: It’s a waste of money

A transport project’s benefit-cost ratio (BCR) summaries its value for money. A 2008 report by transport expert Sir Rod Eddington found the East-West toll road had a BCR of 0.5 – 0.8 meaning 20-50 cents in every dollar spent on the project would be wasted. Victorians would lose money on this toll road.

Poor governance: There is no mandate

Survey after survey shows Victorians believe it’s more important right now to invest in public transport over more roads. The current government was elected in 2010 because of their pro-public transport stance and, at the time, they said the East-West toll road was not on their agenda. They have no mandate to build this costly project that is not supported by voters.

Not beneficial: It will not fix our traffic crisis

The government’s own figures show that the East-West toll road would create a traffic explosion with 35% more traffic on the Eastern Freeway by 2021 as well as log-jamming many other local roads. The government’s own figures also show that, within a short decade, any time saved by the toll road would be lost.

Other priorities: We need Melbourne Metro first

The federal government agency, Infrastructure Australia (IA), assesses large-scale, nation building projects and ranks their importance. IA has ranked the Melbourne Metro as a more urgent and beneficial project for Victoria, and further, has raised numerous unanswered questions about the East-West toll road.

Significant impact: Dangerous and detrimental for all Melbournians

The East-West toll road would directly impact on the Royal Park, Ross Straw playing fields as well as be closely located near primary schools and the Melbourne Zoo. The removal of sporting fields used by clubs from across Melbourne as well as the removal of thousands of tonnes of toxic waste during construction means it will be dangerous and detrimental to all Melbournians.

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