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West Gate Tunnel updated

05 May 2017

West Gate Tunnel updated Image

By Sunny Liu

The proposed West Gate Tunnel project, formerly known as the Western Distributor, has emerged with new designs and appointed constructors.

However, Docklands residents and the City of Melbourne will be disappointed to know that Wurundjeri Way will become a new non-tolled city bypass.

The City of Melbourne has long been critical of the West Gate Tunnel project, brought by Transurban and the State Government, for fears that it will bring more traffic into Docklands and the CBD once Wurundjeri Way becomes a non-tolled city bypass.

The previous designs of the project only included an extension of Dynon Rd into Docklands, but for the first time, Wurundjeri Way has been officially recognised as a new city bypass under the updated West Gate Tunnel design.

According to the West Gate Tunnel project team, a new lane will be added on each side of Wurundjeri Way to improve the road capacity and traffic will be redistributed from the existing West Gate Freeway to the new city bypass.

West Gate Tunnel spokesperson Jim Carden said: “Wurundjeri Way will be extended and widened to create a city bypass, which will take traffic off Spencer and King streets.”

Mr Carden told Docklands News last September that no extra traffic would be entering the city as a result of the project.

“The total number of car trips to and from the city remains almost constant, whether or not the Western Distributor is built,” he said. “Many people already make trips to reach health, education and employment opportunities north of Melbourne’s CBD, and will continue to do so.”

More than 14km of cycling and walking paths, including a 2.5km veloway above Footscray Rd, is another highlight of the updated project.

The 2.5km veloway, stretching from Shepherd Bridge to Costco, is designed specifically for cyclists and will potentially bring more cyclists into Docklands.

The veloway will end at a new bridge across Footscray Rd near Costco, making crossing safer at one of the busiest intersections for cyclists. Under the proposed plan, cyclists and pedestrians will be completely separated from vehicles for the entire journey from Werribee to Docklands.

“With over 14 km of new and upgraded bikes path, including the new veloway along Footscray Rd, there will be safer, express journeys for people going to work or visiting Docklands on the weekend,” Mr Carden said.

CPB Contractors and John Holland have been selected to deliver the $5.5 billion project over the next five years.

Once completed, the West Gate Tunnel will serve as an alternative to the often-congested West Gate Bridge and will link the western suburbs to the city over the Maribyrnong River.

The plan also proposes an upgrade to the existing path on Dynon Rd to give pedestrians and cyclists a new bridge over Moonee Ponds Creek.

As part of the updated plan, trucks will be banned from Francis St, Somerville Rd, Buckley St and Moore St in the west to reduce noises and improve safety.

“The West Gate Tunnel Project will take thousands of trucks off local streets and make cycling easier and safer for people to get around,” Minister for Roads Luke Donnellan said.

“The local community told us that they wanted to fix the gaps in the cycling network and that’s what we’re doing.”

The West Gate Tunnel project will be assessed through an Environmental Effects Statement and the results will be published mid-year. Construction is expected to start in early 2018.

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