MELBOURNE Airport last week released its preliminary draft Master Plan for the future development of the airport for public comment, which outlines the vision for the development of the nation's second busiest passenger airport over the next 20 years.
A third runway, running east-west, is proposed in response to predictions that the existing two-runway system will reach capacity between 2018 and 2022, and a new single-direction elevated loop road is also outlined in the plan, with construction expected to commence in 2015.
Melbourne Airport CEO, Chris Woodruff, described the 2013 draft Master Plan as an important milestone in the development of Melbourne Airport and an important blueprint for Victoria's economic future.
"The draft Master Plan highlights the economic and social importance of Melbourne Airport and how its future growth will continue to drive the Victorian economy, including more than doubling spending by interstate and international visitors from $8.5 billion to $18 billion by 2033," Mr Woodruff said.
It also forecasts that the number of jobs directly related to airport operations will grow from more than 14,000 now to 23,000 in 2033 and the airport's contribution to Gross State Product will more than double from $1.47 billion to $3.2 billion over the same period, according to Mr Woodruff.
Detailed planning and design processes for the third runway are expected to commence in 2014, with the proposed 3,000 metre long and 60 metre wide runway scheduled to commence operations between 2018 and 2022 and help the airport meet demand until approximately 2040, at which point a fourth runway will be required, according to forecasts.
The draft Master Plan contains a number of options to improve ground transport infrastructure, including provision for the development of a future airport rail link and the identification of opportunities to prioritise and provide additional bus services to the airport and better links from metropolitan and regional rail services to the airport.
"Melbourne Airport is aiming to increase all trips to the airport by public transport by 2022 to 15-25 per cent, making the rail link vital. In the long term, Melbourne Airport seeks public transport usage of no less than 30 per cent," the Master Plan states.
A breakdown of existing passenger travel at the airport shows that currently, 64.3 per cent of passengers travel by car, 23.1 per cent travel by taxi/VHA and 11.7 per cent by bus (0.9 per cent other). Furthermore, 94.7 per cent of the airport's 14,300 employees travel to the airport by car, with 3.8 per cent travelling by SkyBus and 1.4 per cent by bus.
The Master Plan states that these proportions are projected to stay consistent between now and 2033 without future infrastructure and service changes. However it predicts that a future rail link could carry more than 6 million passengers a year or approximately 15 per cent of the more than 40 million passengers expected in 2023.
A number of road and car park upgrades are also proposed, including the new single-direction elevated loop road to be built above existing roads and allow intersection-free access to the terminal precincts. Previously predicted to cost several hundred million dollars, the road is expected to be built in stages over several years, with the first stage scheduled to commence in 2015.
In addition, proposed 'ground transport hubs' would separate different transport modes, such as pedestrians and vehicles, and streamline traffic flow around the front of the terminal, according to the Master Plan. The hubs will be built to allow passenger pick-up and drop-off, access to public transport and parking.
The draft Master Plan also includes an environment strategy to address the key environmental issues associated with the airport's operations and proposed actions by the airport to address them and protect and improve the environment.
It also sets out the importance of state and local planning, land use and development policies and controls around the airport and includes updated Australian Noise Exposure Forecasts (ANEF) contours to show the areas affected by aircraft noise.
The draft Master Plan will be submitted to the Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport for approval following the public consultation process, which ends on 21 August 2013. More information is available from the Melbourne Airport website at <http://melbourneairport.com.au/>.