Community groups are vowing to fight tooth and nail for improvements to the West Gate Tunnel after the $5.5 billion toll road for Melbourne’s west was given the green light.
Planning Minister Richard Wynne signed off on Monday on the Environmental Effects Statement (EES), the final hurdle for the unsolicited proposal by toll road operators Transurban. The project will connect the West Gate Freeway to the Port of Melbourne, CityLink and the Melbourne CBD via twin tunnels under Yarraville, three new bridges over the Maribyrnong River and an elevated freeway above Footscray Road.
Mr Wynne is recommending the state government acquire about 10 homes on Hyde Street in Yarraville at the request of owners facing more than 1500 extra trucks past their doors each day.
The toll road was opposed by Hobsons Bay and Melbourne councils and residents in Spotswood, South Kingsville, Altona North and Brooklyn, who face the prospect of thousands more trucks on their streets.
Better West – Spotswood South Kingsville Residents Group spokeswoman Rosa McKenna said the community, particularly Brooklyn, had been “hung out to dry”.
“We don’t feel we’ve been listened to,” she said.
Don’t Destroy Millers Road spokesman Chris Dunlevy said the increased truck traffic would be devastating for Brooklyn, already Melbourne’s most polluted suburb.
“The Brooklyn community is beyond shattered,” he said. “We trusted the process and have been completely let down.”
Mr Dunlevy said offering some double glazing for the residents on Millers Road would do nothing for the congestion, pollution and safety problems coming their way.
“The state government should hang their heads in shame – RIP Brooklyn,” he said.
Mr Wynne says the project will slash congestion, reduce travel times and create 6000 jobs.
“There will be significant impacts during construction, but we’re getting the planning right to ensure disruptions are minimised and both the community and the environment are protected,” he said.
Mr Wynne has rejected calls by the Maribyrnong Truck Action Group (MTAG) for the filtration of tunnel ventilation emissions and for truck curfews to be enshrined in law.
MTAG secretary Martin Wurt said the group was outraged concerns of the community and health and air quality experts had been ignored in a “flawed” project that would funnel an extra 4000 trucks a day on to Williamstown Road.
“MTAG strongly believes this project is flawed and will fail our community, leaving us to bear the brunt of Victoria’s freight industry for decades to come,” he said.
“The Planning Minister Richard Wynne has not only ignored calls for filtration from community groups, but unbelievably has gone against advice from health and air quality experts who gave evidence that filtration would make a difference to resident’s health.”
Construction will start in early 2018 and is due to be completed by the end of 2022.
-with Goya Dmytryshchak