City supports extra traffic for Docklands

By Shane Scanlan

The City of Melbourne has started shoring up its defences against a traffic invasion from the West Gate Tunnel project – but it comes at the expense of Docklands.

The council is having a “bet each way” – firstly saying it “doesn’t support” the project and, secondly, asking for state money to discourage traffic in local streets in West and North Melbourne.

It proposes to turn Spencer St into a “high street” as part of the West Melbourne Structure Plan and is seeking further permission to convert arterial roads into local roads.

And, the more it defends residential areas in the north and west from extra traffic, the more it is effectively promoting Wurundjeri Way as a city bypass.

Acting Lord Mayor Arron Wood, in answer to a question from Docklands News at the February 6 Future Melbourne Committee meeting, admitted Wurundjeri Way would carry more traffic as a result of the treatment to local roads.

He said Harbour Esplanade was one of the local roads the city wanted to protect from extra traffic.

The city is putting 10 projects to the State Government and is seeking $50 million to fund them. It is also seeking a state-funded City of Melbourne team to help implement the projects.

Cr Wood told the February 6 meeting that agreement – a “shared commitment” – had been reached on seven of the projects.

“We have a shared commitment to these projects, while acknowledging disagreement on the project fundamentally. They are acknowledging that we don’t support the project but they are coming to the party on mitigating some of those impacts,” Cr Wood said.

Reading from a letter from the State Government, Cr Wood said: “It is not proposed to upgrade local roads in North and West Melbourne. The purpose of the extended Wurundjeri Way is to enable traffic to bypass the city and reduce pressure on Spencer St.”

Transport portfolio chair, Cr Nicholas Frances Gilley, said: “First of all, we are saying don’t go ahead. And, secondly, we are saying, if you do go ahead, we want to see the action for that mitigation.”

“If this is to continue to go ahead, it is really important that we, as a city council, are resourced to work as much as we possibly can to get the best outcomes for the city.”

Cr Rohan Leppert defended the council’s strategy of negotiating with the government for projects to mitigate the effects of the project.

“We have to acknowledge that there are a few ways to get things done. One is to make public statements, the other is to try to negotiate with the government as much as possible,” he said.

The 10 projects the council wants from the government are:

1. Improving traffic and access including funding streetscape upgrades on Spencer and Franklin streets, funding other traffic mitigation works in North Melbourne, West Melbourne, Docklands and the CBD and funding works to improve airport bus services by delivering a high level of on-road priority on the freeway and arterial road networks connecting to the Southern Cross Station terminal;

2. No further expansion of road capacity or change to the status of local roads in North Melbourne, West Melbourne and Docklands to accommodate extra traffic from the project;

3. Conversion of Spencer and Clarendon streets from arterial to local roads between Dryburgh St and Normanby Rd to facilitate improvements to pedestrian safety and urban amenity especially near Southern Cross Station and in West Melbourne;

4. Modification of the CityLink concession deed to remove the limitation on changes to King, Spencer and William streets;

5. Investment in Moonee Ponds Creek, including expansion of the masterplan to cover an area from Mt Alexander Rd to the Yarra River, and funding for land and works to fully deliver the masterplan. Development of a masterplan for the creek between Footscray Rd and Dynon Rd is a requirement of the Minister’s Assessment;

6. Supporting urban renewal in Arden and Macaulay by identifying and facilitating an alternative Citywide site in either the Dynon Rd area or Fishermans Bend, to service the needs of the expanding central city;

7. Commitment to work with the City of Melbourne to ensure that the operation of the new intersection between the Wurundjeri Way extension and the Dynon Rd connection does not have unintended negative consequences, such as increased traffic on the Dynon Rd bridge link and in local streets;

8. Commitment to delivering connections between West Melbourne and Docklands through E-Gate to realise the vision of the West Melbourne Structure Plan;

9. Commitment to maintaining viable trees wherever possible, and to replace and increase canopy cover by a rate of 5:1 within the City of Melbourne; and

10. Commitment to work with the council to achieve the best possible outcomes in line with the Minister’s Assessment and for funding for a full time City of Melbourne team to service the project through to completion, in line with the successful Metro tunnel support team and funding.

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