The duplication of Epping and Bridge Inn roads, the extension of Edgars Road and the continuation of the rail line to Wollert and the No. 86 tram to South Morang have been labelled urgent priorities by Whittlesea council as it tries to address the city’s “congestion crisis”.
The council has adopted a Roads and Public Transport Plan, which its says will guide its lobbying for infrastructure.
It says that successive state governments have failed to invest in roads and public transport in the municipality, creating congestion across the city.
According to council data, Whittlesea residents have longer commutes than inner city residents and are significantly more likely to experience transport limitations and higher living costs as a result of the time spent travelling each day.
The plan also highlighted the need for the duplication of Yan Yean Road to be extended beyond Kurrak Road, extra lanes on Childs Road, and upgrades to a number of intersections across the municipality.
Mayor Ricky Kirkham said the council needed to alert the state and federal government to Whittlesea’s most pressing transport issues to address congestion.
“We have a congestion crisis in our city. Successive governments have failed us,” he said. “There is no simple or easy way to fix traffic congestion. But our community can be certain that council is committed to improving the situation so that our residents will be able to move more freely around our municipality.”
The plan follows a warning last December from Infrastructure Victoria that the drive from Epping to Melbourne’s CBD is predicted to take one hour and 45 minutes by 2046 unless congestion is addressed.
The independent advisory body said the commute currently takes about 60 minutes, but within 30 years clogged roads will put Epping residents in traffic for an extra 45 minutes.
In the past two months, more than 1000 residents have joined a Facebook page calling for the municipality’s roads to be improved.
Cr Mary Lalios said it was essential that governments invested in road and public transport improvements across Whittlesea because congestion was affecting families.
“It is robbing our community of critical family time,” she said.
“In 2014, residents in Epping North told me it takes 40 minutes to travel from one end of Epping to the other.”
The past two state budgets have committed funding to upgrade Yan Yean and Plenty roads, and the 2016-17 budget also allocated funding for a feasibility study into extending the No. 86 tram to the Plenty Valley town centre.