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Here come the cars

01 Jun 2017

Here come the cars Image

By Shane Scanlan

The State Government has released the West Gate Tunnel environmental effects statement (EES) and it confirms Docklands’ worst fears: traffic is heading this way.

Traffic modeling shows traffic calming in the western suburbs, but increased congestion in North Melbourne, West Melbourne and Docklands. Under the plan, Wurundjeri Way becomes a city bypass for traffic, which currently uses King St and Spencer St.

An “extension” is proposed between Dynon Rd and Wurundjeri Way, which planners expect to carry up to 19,000 vehicles per day. Wurundjeri Way itself is to get an extra lane in each direction and is predicted to carry up to 16,000 extra vehicles per day by 2031 if the project proceeds.

Traffic consultancy GHD says that, even if the project doesn’t proceed, Wurundjeri Way will carry 9000 more vehicles by 2031.

But it’s hard to have confidence in the accuracy of the traffic forecasts because of apparent anomalies in the research.

GHD claims that Harbour Esplanade (between Bourke and LaTrobe streets) currently carries up to 14,000 vehicles per day – about a third of the assessed volume on Wurundjeri Way. Those of us who know this single-lane, 40kmh section, complete with multiple pedestrian crossings will question this research.

Regardless of whether or not the project proceeds, the consultancy is further forecasting the Harbour Esplanade daily traffic number will rise to 16,000 by 2031.

A map (pictured here) from the EES traffic and transport chapter shows a snapshot of increased and decreased traffic volumes but it appears to be inconsistent with GHD’s research.

The map shows a decrease of 3000 in daily traffic volumes at the southern end of Wurundjeri Way by 2031 should the project proceed. But in GHD’s Technical Report A – Transport, the consultants predict actual net rise of 9000 vehicles for the Flinders St to Montague St section of Wurundjeri Way.

The EES says of the Wurundjeri Way extension: “The Wurundjeri Way extension would connect Dynon Rd and the West Gate Tunnel Project with Wurundjeri Way. Combined with a widened Wurundjeri Way, the extension would form a complete central city bypass, removing traffic from the parallel routes of Spencer St and King St.”

The extension also appears to be critical to the business case for the tunnel project. A Transport Modelling Summary prepared by Velch Lister Consulting reveals that, without tolling at the Dynon Rd /Wurundjeri Way city access connections, the project would be 10.2 per cent less viable. This was identified as the second-highest threat.

On the future of E-Gate, the EES summary document says: "The north-west corner of the proposed E-Gate urban renewal precinct on the western edge of the central city would be occupied temporarily during construction and a smaller area of less than 1.5 ha (from the 20-ha site) would be acquired permanently to accommodate ramps for the Dynon Rd and Wurundjeri Way connections."

"The new park and shared use bridge on the west bank of Moonee Ponds Creek would present an opportunity to establish a future connection with the E-Gate site, as well as providing an attractive open space for future residents."

The EES as well as an EPA works approval application and a draft planning scheme amendment will be on public exhibition and open to comment until Monday, July 10.

The full EES can be found at www.westgatetunnelproject.vic.gov.au/ees and it is on display at 14 locations.

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