THE Victorian Government last week announced the release of the Environment Effects Statement (EES) for the proposed West Gate Tunnel Project, which aims to relieve traffic pressure on the Monash/CityLink/West Gate Freeway, reduce the city's reliance on the West Gate Bridge and provide a direct freight link to the Port of Melbourne.
The EES has been undertaken by the Western Distributor Authority and assessed potential impacts in 17 areas including transport, air quality, noise, landscape and visual amenity, vibration, business, ecology, social and human health.
According to the government, the 10,000-page EES includes the following findings:
- The project will take more than 9,000 trucks per day off residential streets in the inner west, as up to 67,000 vehicles use the new tunnels every day as an alternative to the West Gate Bridge;
- The project will cut travel times by up to 20 minutes between Melbourne and the western suburbs, Geelong and Ballarat;
- The project includes the planting of more than 17,000 trees including 4000 mature trees, replacing trees that need to be removed at a ratio of more than 3:1; and
- The project will protect the health of the community with no measurable change in the health of the community associated with the project.
The three components of the West Gate Tunnel Project are:
West Gate Freeway component – includes upgrade and widening works between the M80 Ring Road interchange and the Williamstown Road, providing two additional lanes in each direction to generally increase capacity to six through lanes in each direction (and auxiliary lanes as required).
The tunnels component - two tunnels (one inbound, one outbound) under Yarraville catering for three lanes of traffic in each direction. The tunnels would extend from two southern portals (entrances/exits) located along the West Gate Freeway to the west of Williamstown Road and to the west of the Newport Freight Line Railway to a northern portal located east of Whitehall Street and north of Somerville Road, to the west of the Maribyrnong River in Footscray. The outbound tunnel would have a length of approximately 4.0 kilometres and the inbound tunnel approximately 2.8 kilometres. A tunnel ventilation structure would be located at each exit portal.
The port, CityLink and city connections component - includes a crossing of the Maribyrnong River, connections to the Port of Melbourne, an elevated road above Footscray Road and connections to CityLink and the central city.
The EES, EPA Works Approval application and draft Planning Scheme Amendment are on public exhibition and open to comment until 10 July 2017.