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E-Gate threatened by road plan

04 Feb 2016

E-Gate threatened by road plan Image

By Bethany Williams

The State Government stands to lose around $200 million and will irrevocably change the future of E-Gate if it proceeds with a proposed road through the planned suburb.

The road would be one of three CBD exits from Transurban’s Western Distributor, which the government confirmed in December it would help fund.

In its business case for the Western Distributor project, the Government says its preferred alignment at the CBD end of the road was multiple off ramps linking to Dynon Rd, Wurundjeri Way and Footscray Rd.

The Wurundjeri Way exit would cut through the 20-hectare E-Gate site to Docklands north, which is poised for urban renewal, effectively halving the available land.  

By halving the available land, the Government will also halve the value of the site.

Local developer David Napier estimates the E-Gate site is worth around $400 million to the Government in land sales to developers.

However, around 50 per cent of the land would be negated if an exit ramp were built though the middle of it, accordingly reducing the value of the land to $200 million.

Major Projects Victoria, the Government department set to deliver E-Gate, said the site was expected to generate $3-4 billion worth of investment to the state. Accordingly, it’s expected this figure would also halve if the road proposal proceeds.

And, while E-Gate was originally planned to be a home to 10,000 new residents, under the Western Distributor exit ramp proposal the new suburb would only have room for 5000.

A major road running through the precinct would also inevitably have a significant impact on the amenity and environment of E-Gate, potentially making it a much less attractive place to live and visit.

A Major Projects spokesperson said the department couldn’t comment on the implications of the Western Distributor on the E-Gate site while the design of the road was being finalised.              

Both Transurban and Roads Minister Luke Donnellan also maintained that the project’s design was yet to be finalised and that the community would be consulted.

“The design is still being finalised through the statutory planning process and in consultation with communities and local councils, including the Docklands community and the City of Melbourne,” Mr Donnellan said.

“The EES (Environmental Effects Statement) process will provide a rigorous framework through which the project’s environmental, social and technical impacts will be thoroughly assessed, based on technical studies and reports.”

“Creating a vital alternative river crossing of the Maribyrnong, it will also better distribute traffic that currently enters the city, reducing traffic on Spencer St and King St in particular,” Mr Donnellan said.

Providing further connections between the west and the CBD is only a small aspect of the Western Distributor proposal, with the key aims being easing pressure on the M1 corridor, taking trucks off inner-west roads and providing an alternative to the West Gate Bridge.

With the proposed Wurundjeri Way exit expected to have a major impact on the future of E-Gate, what is worse is that it appears to have no real value.

The aim of multiple CBD exits is to disperse traffic travelling into central Melbourne, however the same amount of cars will still be accessing various arterial roads.

In the case of Wurundjeri Way, the proposed exit ramp through E-Gate would certainly get cars from the Western Distributor to Wurundjeri Way quicker, but it won’t speed up the rate cars are able to move along the road once they get there.

Even the Government admits the Western Distributor is likely to impact on traffic in the CBD’s north.

“Once operating, traffic patterns on other roads throughout the inner west will change, particularly from the eastern end of Footscray Rd. This has implications for the performance of arterial roads such as Dynon Rd, Dudley St and Wurundjeri Way,” the business case states.

The alternative option, of cars exiting onto Footscray Rd and travelling via Dudley St to Wurundjeri Way would certainly take longer, but this slower movement of traffic could potentially assist with traffic flow through Wurundjeri Way.

It appears any public benefit of a road through E-Gate is negligible, leading to a loss of value and amenity at the E-Gate site and no apparent improvement to traffic flow through Wurundjeri Way.

The only apparent benefit would be to toll road operator Transurban, which will cash-in on commuters exiting via the CBD off-ramps.

Under the preferred tolling structure in the Government’s business case, cars would pay $2.77 to use the Western Distributor and an additional $4.43 to exit at the CBD ramps during the morning peak.

A Transurban spokesperson said the Western Distributor would provide another route to Melbourne from the west and “would better distribute the traffic that currently enters the city via the M1 at Montague St, Kings Way and Power St or via Footscray and Dynon roads from the West.”

“Transurban’s proposal includes city access. The details of how key improvements are designed and built, including how the new section of road connects with existing roads will be explored further as we work with Government, stakeholders and communities to develop the project further."

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