E-Gate could be sacrificed for no benefit
Editorial by Shane Scanlan
The State Government is facing a crucial decision about the future of the proposed E-Gate urban redevelopment on 20 ha it owns to the north of Docklands.
Long-mooted as the new home for 10,000 residents, the location of one of three “off-ramps” from the proposed Western Distributor road project is threatening to halve the potential of the project.
E-Gate is a model urban renewal proposal. The southern end features Docklands-style high-rise. But the middle and northern ends are proposed to be low-rise residences surrounded by parkland and connected closely with North Melbourne Station.
As reported elsewhere in this edition, a decision in favour of an off-ramp through the length of the disused rail yards would effectively halve the land available for urban redevelopment.
As a consequence of such a decision, the suburb would support only 5000 new residents and the loss to the state treasury is estimated at $200 million because the Government would have only half its land to sell to developers.
While the published “business case” for the Western Distributor mischievously spins the controversial off-ramp as improved “access” for the new suburb, developers confirm that the road would halve the available land.
So far, the public commentary on this issue has been confined to the effect on inner city traffic congestion. No one, except perhaps Transurban, which stands to reap lucrative tolls, thinks that pumping more cars into the CBD is a good idea.
This is particularly pertinent when you consider that a direct link between the Western Distributor and Wurunjeri Way would not actually deliver any more traffic than a Footscray Rd off-ramp.
The effect would be to deliver the same amount of traffic, but it would just get to this intersection faster. And then it would stop.
Traffic would become gridlocked here as it continued south on Wurunjeri Way.
Wurunjeri Way doesn’t flow because of the bottle-neck where it meets the M1 Freeway at Montague St. Putting more traffic into this area is pointless.
The idea of the Western Distributor is to get trucks off the West Gate Bridge and into the port. This can be done without an off-ramp through the e-Gate precinct.
Major Projects Victoria has been prevented from proceeding with the E-Gate project while transport decisions are made about the Western Distributor.
When it finally comes time to make a decision, it is hoped that the left hand of Government knows what its right hand is doing.