VICTORIAN Planning Minister Richard Wynne has signed off on the Environmental Effects Statement (EES) for the proposed West Gate Tunnel, which would provide Melbourne with a major second river crossing and an alternative route from the West Gate Freeway to the CBD.
The EES for the West Gate Tunnel Project was prepared 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.
The Minister's assessment recommends Wurundjeri Way be lowered and V/Line stabling yards be relocated to maximise the potential of the future E-Gate urban renewal precinct, as well as improve cycling and pedestrian connections between Docklands and North Melbourne.
The Western Distributor Authority had already proposed to plant three trees for every tree removed by the project, but Mr Wynne recommended that ratio rise to five trees. That will mean a total of 4,000 advanced trees are planted, as well as 13,500 tubestock trees.
Mr Wynne also recommended the acquisition of a group of houses on Hyde Street due to their proximity to the project. The government will also work with residents on Millers Road, Brooklyn, on measures to reduce noise, such as the installation of double glazing to homes.
The assessment proposes a noise wall along the full length of future open space in Altona North, protecting the community from adverse noise and visual impacts. This is in addition to the new noise walls announced during the EES hearings, which will protect existing open space reserves along the West Gate Freeway.
Mr Wynne also made recommendations to ensure the health and safety of motorists in the tunnels, but he accepted the EPA's submission that the filtration of tunnel ventilation emissions will do little to improve local air quality, and proposes that they are not included.
However, he has recommended that the construction of the ventilation stacks does not preclude the introduction of this technology in the future.
Mr Wynne has asked for further investigation of how to best manage traffic issues in North and West Melbourne and prepare plans for a linear reserve along the Moonee Ponds Creek between Dynon and Footscray Roads. These two studies will form part of a broader strategy to develop E-Gate and surrounds.
The proposed West Gate Tunnel Project includes:
- Widening the West Gate Freeway from 8 to 12 lanes and include express lanes between the M80 and the West Gate Bridge, reducing weaving and merging that leads to traffic congestion.
- A tunnel from the West Gate Freeway to the Maribyrnong River and the Port of Melbourne which will take motorists and trucks underground and off residential streets, providing a more efficient freight route.
- A bridge over the Maribyrnong River, linking to an elevated road along Footscray Road will get people to where they need to go in the CBD north.
- State-of-the-art smart technology across the length of the project linking it to other freeway management systems across the city.
Construction on the project is scheduled to start in early 2018, with works to be completed by the end of 2022. The project will be funded through a combination of tolling on the West Gate Tunnel, an extension of Transurban's CityLink concession, and State and Commonwealth contributions.