The West Gate Tunnel Project is at odds with current urban planning and will be a “blight” on the area, according to the peak planning industry body.
The Planning Institute of Australia’s response to the environment effects statement (EES) for the $5.5 billion tollway project accepts there is an over-reliance on the West Gate Bridge and a need to better manage freight traffic from the port, but slammed the statement for failing to consider transport and land alternatives.
The submission by the institute’s Victorian division president, Laura Murray, argues that heavy demand on the West Gate Bridge and M1 corridor is a “result of inadequate investment in alternative transport options” and that the new tunnel project will merely entrench the domination of car use across Melbourne.
“Consideration of alternate options is fundamental to a rigorous EES process,” the submission says. “Instead, the West Gate Tunnel is presented as a fait accompli … there are a variety of other solutions which could be used to manage the lack of river crossings.”
PIA Victoria is calling for more freight to be moved by rail, an increased emphasis on job growth in the western suburbs and a greater focus on alternatives.
“It is of concern that this project has not been considered by Infrastructure Victoria in its assessment of the state’s future infrastructure needs and as such has not been compared to other potential investments,” its submissions said.
Particularly concern was expressed about “the large new bridge structures” crossing the Maribyrnong River and the “elimination of any opportunity” to make Footscray Road an iconic boulevard.
“The proposal as it stands is a retrograde, traffic-engineering focused solution which is entirely at odds with any appreciation for good place making and contemporary urban planning.
“The proposed 18 lanes of traffic on and above Footscray Road is completely out of proportion with an inner-city location … and will permanently blight the area.”
A submission by the Maribyrnong Truck Action Group provided in-principle support for the project, but raised major concerns about air pollution and health impacts.
President Samantha McArthur said MTAG is worried that promised truck bans on residential streets could be watered down and particularly concerned the EES does not call for vent stack filtration.
“The tunnel may get trucks off our streets but without filtration our community will be breathing its air pollution for decades to come.”
MTAG is also seeking further truck bans on Williamstown Road, Millers Road and Hudsons Road.