Maria Kariofillidis says the West Gate Tunnel project will be the death of her.
The 76-year-old Greek pensioner lives in Hyde Street, Yarraville, opposite the fuel terminal. English is her second language.
Last week she found out that after almost eight years of talks between the government and residents about possible acquisition and compensation, the state will not buy her home as part of the $5.5 billion tunnel project.
Her daughter, Koula Papadopoulos, delivered the news as she translated the relevant section of a 10,000-page environmental effects statement for her.
“I will die here if they do this,” Ms Kariofillidis said in Greek. “I won’t have a life here. They need to buy our homes.
“I don’t know where I will go but I can’t live like this.”
The West Gate Tunnel is a new tollway that will widen the West Gate Freeway to 12 lanes and also tunnel under Yarraville to link the West Gate to CityLink. It is due to open in 2022.
Newly announced 24-hour truck bans along Francis Street will see the volume of vehicles drop by 5000 a day there, but will force an increase of vehicle traffic by a predicted 1600 on Hyde Street.
The EES predicts 7600 trucks will drive past 11 Hyde Street homes – including that of Ms Kariofillidis – every day.
Almost 6000 vehicles, including fuel tankers, already drive by the homes daily.
Ms Kariofillidis said she had called Hyde Street her home for 44 years and, despite the already surrounding traffic problems, it was still her home.
“It’s so noisy, the house shakes,” she said. “I block my ears, I feel dizzy sometimes from the fumes. I can’t really grow anything in my garden.
“But all my life has been here. It’s like I was born here.”
She is not alone.
Her neighbours also want the government to purchase their homes and have banded together to lobby the state.
Ms Kariofillidis’s daughter is a spokesperson for the lobby group, made up of 11 Hyde Street families. She said the consequences of staying for all of them would be devastating.
“It is likely that if we are not compensated for the affects to our amenities, most of us will be forced to stay and suffer,” Ms Papadopoulos said.
“Rental return is likely to be significantly affected, and our houses will be unsellable, therefore relocation is not an option.
“Some of us will be stuck in houses which have mortgages higher than their value and with growing families to worry about.”
Greens MP Colleen Hartland said if homes were not compulsory acquired, the front yard of these homes would become a “truck superhighway”.
Ms Hartland said she was in talks with government bodies about how these residents can be bought out.
In response to resident concerns, Roads Minister Luke Donnellan said the homes were not needed for the construction of the project, but government representatives were “continuing to meet with residents to discuss their circumstances”.