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Council witness duds Docklands

31 Aug 2017

Council witness duds Docklands Image

By Shane Scanlan

The City of Melbourne’s traffic expert witness to the West Gate Tunnel inquiry on August 28 threw Docklands under a proverbial bus.

Stephen Hunt from Ratio Consultants supported the Western Distributor Authority’s proposal to pour thousands of more vehicles into Wurundjeri Way, without modifying intersections at Flinders St, Batman’s Hill Drive or the West Gate Freeway.

If the proposal proceeds, Docklanders exiting the suburb to the south can expect serious disruption.

The City of Melbourne itself opposes the widening of Wurundjeri Way and connecting it with Dynon Rd to form a city bypass.

“The project fails to appropriately consider the impacts of increased traffic along the widened section of Wurundjeri Way or model how traffic outflow at the southern end of Wurundjeri Way would occur,” the city’s submission says. “A long-term plan for the Flinders St intersection is not provided.”

West Gate Tunnel’s 10,000-page EES shows Wurundjeri Way is predicted to carry up to 16,000 extra vehicles per day if the project proceeds, while Harbour Esplanade’s daily traffic number will rise to 16,000 by 2031 regardless of whether the project is built.

But Mr Hunt supported the Wurundjeri Way Extension, saying: “From a traffic capacity viewpoint, for the projected future volumes of the section south of Dudley St and the intended creation of a connective central city bypass, widening to six lanes is warranted and desirable.”

Despite 20 per cent increases in traffic volumes, the West Gate Tunnel Environmental Effects Statement (EES) predicts an actual decrease in traffic to the south between Wurundjeri Way and the West Gate Freeway intersection – an illogical mathematical outcome, which went unchallenged by Mr Hunt.

Mr Hunt appears to assess the Wurundjeri Way Extension from a North or West Melbourne perspective.

“In my opinion, the extension of Wurundjeri Way to connect with Dynon Rd west of CityLink would provide an overall positive benefit to traffic movement within the North and West Melbourne areas,” he said.

Even without the project, Mr Hunt thinks the extension would be a “worthwhile project in its own right”.

He reassures the architects of the project that their thinking is sound: “In my opinion the extension of Wurundjeri Way to Dynon Rd, to provide a western city bypass, is likely to result in reductions in north south traffic through the city, regardless as to whether city connections are included in association with the project.”

It is now up to the council and local stakeholders to advocate for Docklands.

In its written submission, developer Digital Harbour asks: “What are the projected increases for south-bound traffic volumes at the southern end of Wurundjeri Way where it intersects with Flinders St?”

“What steps are being taken to disperse this additional traffic given that the current intersection arrangement is already congested and gridlocked at peak times? There does not appear to be any consideration at or beyond this intersection to mitigate current and any increased future traffic volumes.”

Ashe Morgan, owner of The District Docklands (formerly Harbour Town), argues that the project would preclude a valuable connection between Docklands and North Melbourne and result in permanent and temporary loss of development land.

“The vertical alignment of the new Wurundjeri Way extension could impact the ability to deliver the link between North Melbourne and Waterfront City,” Ashe Morgan says in its submission to the IAC.

Ashe Morgan also says the E-Gate construction compound for West Gate Tunnel would bring trucks into Docklands Drive and circle through Waterfront City to head north to Footscray Rd, creating noise and disruption to NewQuay.

West Gate Tunnel’s IAC public hearings are being held at Footscray Community Arts Centre until September 19 and submissions and tabled documents can be found on engage.vic.gov.au/west-gate-tunnel-project

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