New 20-lane mega freeway
TWENTY lanes. Two. Zero. It’s enough to give the most Zen drivers anxiety and it hasn’t even been built.
Pictures of Melbourne’s freeway of the future, dubbed “the missing road link” by the Victorian Government, have been revealed.
The Daniel Andrews-led Labor Government released the first images of the proposed North East Link on Sunday. The link would connect Melbourne’s freeway network and include a major upgrade to the Eastern Freeway – one that would see the road swell to 20 lanes and make it one of the world’s widest roads.
The government labelled the project “the single biggest road infrastructure investment in Victoria’s history”.
It’s a theme that follows the election promise a fortnight earlier to deliver the Suburban Rail Loop, billed as “the biggest project in state history”, even if it won’t be completed until 2050.
The project would cost taxpayers $15.8 billion, adding to an astronomical infrastructure spend.
“It is a big project and it adds to an already enormous infrastructure agenda,” the Premier said.
“Something like 130,000 vehicles will use the North East Link every day, that’s not only going to make it one of our biggest road projects but one of our busiest roads.”
It would include a tunnel section of more than five kilometres and a series of green bridges – “parkland that partially covers the open section of the road”, the Premier said.
“This is about giving local roads back to local residents … it’s exactly what our state needs.”
He said construction would begin in 2020 to be finished by 2027.
But the project has been met with some concern.
Manningham councillor Dot Haynes told Fairfax Media she was completely against expanding the existing busy road network by eight lanes.
“It’s absolutely disgusting. This is going to be devastating, absolutely devastating, you will not be able to build a wall high enough to stop that level of noise reaching houses.”
Social media users piled on, too. One user wrote: “I’m almost ashamed to live in a state that’s doing this.”
Another wrote: “Why add more lanes? All freeways should have 3-4 lanes maximum, perhaps 5-6 at major interchanges.”
Urban planner James Scantlebury wrote that green space and community facilities were giving way, to be “replaced by traffic noise and pollution”.
The project will start at the Ring Road at Greensborough, 19km northeast of the Melbourne CBD. It will connect the Ring Road to the Eastern Freeway through Bulleen.
The widest section, at Doncaster Road, will require a “massive overhaul”, according to the Victorian Government.
The project means a number of homes will be compulsorily acquired but the Premier said the benefits, including the creation of 10,000 new jobs, far outweighed any drawbacks.
Mr Andrews shook up the race ahead of November’s election in August with the allocation of $50 billion towards a massive underground rail network linking Victoria’s rail lines and providing an alternative route to the airport.
It would include 90km of new trackwork, 12 new stations and would revolutionise the public transport system by taking away the need for travel from suburban centres through the city before connecting to other lines.
But it wouldn’t be complete until 2050 at the earliest and the state’s opposition said the budget could blow out to more than $100 billion.
“We’ve spent the last 12 months … doing the hard work to determine whether this project makes sense,” he said.
“Does it actually stack up? The answer is yes, it does.”
MEGA HIGHWAY DESIGN: New designs for the North East Link have been released.