The West Gate Tunnel Project is being rushed through without proper scrutiny and will unfairly impact residents living along the project corridor, according to residents and Hobsons Bay Council.
Maribyrnong Council has also argued that ramps to the port over the Maribyrnong River should be wiped from the design and permanent truck curfews must be enshrined in law.
In a submission to the $5.5 billion tollway project’s inquiry and advisory committee, tabled on Friday, Hobsons Bay Council acknowledged some benefits but took issue with “the adverse environmental effects of the Project on local communities within Hobsons Bay”.
This included its impacts on Brooklyn, Altona North, Spotswood and South Kingsville.
“It remains necessary that the impacts on communities along the Project corridor itself are acceptable. In its current form, Council is not convinced the Project will achieve this.”
A submission on behalf of Maribyrnong Council argued the promise of removing trucks off local roads is “a critical aspect” in favour of the project.
“The truck curfews ought be imposed under an Act of Parliament to ensure that they cannot be lifted at the whim of the relevant Minister of the day.”
The submission also took issue with the state government’s Western Distributor Authority giving greater weight to the perceived needs of the Port of Melbourne than the amenity of the Maribyrnong River corridor in pushing for new ramps over the river connecting with Mackenzie Road.
“The council contends that the WGT could be implemented without the ramps at Mackenzie Road, consistently with the port’s long-term vision.
“Such an approach would have the added bonus of not jeopardising the implementation of the council’s plans [for the riverside precinct].”
A submission and presentation by the Spotswood South Kingsville Residents Group, tabled on Monday, labelled the Environmental Effects Statement process particularly hasty “for such an important piece of infrastructure”.
They are seeking “proper scrutiny and assessment” of Hyde Street ramp options and a fast-tracking of other transport options such as Melbourne Metro 2, arguing the impact assessments on traffic, air quality, health and social effects need to be redone.
“We are the collateral damage being borne for the overall net benefit argument made by Counsel for WDA”.
In a presentation on Tuesday, Hyde Street residents reiterated their calls for the acquisition of their homes due to the “significant environment effect” on their houses of increased truck traffic and significant construction in their vicinity.
Spotswood resident Christine Harris presented on the project making the area “a dumping ground” for traffic problems of the inner west.
The National Trust of Australia submission, tabled Tuesday, raised concerns about loss of green infrastructure, the impact on environmental heritage values at Stony Creek, Hyde Park Reserve and Moonee Ponds Creek, the visual and physical impact on Yarraville Gardens and Footscray Road and the “substantial and dominating bridge crossing” of the Maribyrnong River.
They also raised “serious concerns” regarding the extent of engagement with Traditional Owner Groups in local areas, particularly with regard to use of design motifs that reference Aboriginal cultural heritage.
The Planning Institute of Australia’s presentation on Tuesday reiterated the view that taxpayer money would be better spent on alternative infrastructure that reduced the growth in demand for road space.
“The West Gate Tunnel Project EES documentation does not provide sufficient information to allow alternate options to be comprehensively compared, however we can be sure that additional roads and traffic do not contribute to achieving the sustainable, liveable city that strategic planning policies seek to achieve.”
Melbourne Water has indicated it wants the West Gate Tunnel to live up to its name and go under rather than over the Maribyrnong River.
Shadow roads minister Ryan Smith said a growing list of experts have serious concerns about the West Gate Tunnel project.
“The government’s hand-picked experts, Mr William McDougal and Mr John Allard, have already exposed the flawed traffic modelling that has been used to justify a business case that increasingly appears not to stack up,” he said.
“Now, the government’s own water authority has questioned the design of the project, citing impacts on the environment and the potential to cause flooding as a result of the proposed bridge over the Maribyrnong River.”