The Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has expressed dismay at the Premier John Brumby for considering the building of the so-called `missing link’ freeway as part of a metropolitan ring road. The PTUA said that major public transport investment is needed instead.
“With spiralling petrol prices and concern about climate change, it is alarming that the Premier is even considering another freeway,” said Jeremy Lunn, the PTUA’s Outer-East Convenor. “Clearly our political leaders have a very warped sense of reality.”
While reports have suggested that an underground freeway might be an option, the PTUA has warned that tunnels of the length required are unrealistic. Even the shorter option between Bulleen and Greensborough would require two tunnels, each being three times longer than the Burnley Tunnel.
“That sort of construction would become a $20 billion white elephant, even assuming the road could be put in a tunnel for its entire length.”
Furthermore, according to expert advice provided to the PTUA, the slope from Bulleen to Rosanna is too great to allow for the building of an underground freeway through the Yarra Flats region.
“The only way the road can be built is as an elevated freeway through the middle of Bolin Bolin Billabong in the Warringal Parklands,” Mr Lunn said. “All that VicRoads have ever suggested is a `possible’ tunnel further north, in Rosanna.”
The other route suggested by the road lobby, from Greensborough to Ringwood through Eltham and Warrandyte, would be up to 25km in length, making a tunnel even less feasible.
“At best, there might be a short tunnel at some point, but the rest will have to be an above-ground freeway that will destroy the last of our green wedges,” Mr Lunn said.
“Even with a tunnel, people still have to have exhaust stacks in their backyard, and the result will be greater greenhouse gas emissions. Traffic will still be just as bad on local roads, if not worse.”
“The real missing link is public transport, Mr Lunn said. “After decades of neglect, our public transport system is at crisis point with serious investment required to give people an alternative to driving.
“The Premier should be making a start on projects such as rail extensions to Doncaster, Rowville, South Morang and Mernda, and major upgrades to bus services.”
“Freeways are not the answer in the 21st century and certainly not in this part of Melbourne’s north-east.”