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Media Release


City's ring road obsession may lead to toll road folly

The Geelong Branch of the Public Transport Users Association today condemned the the City of Greater Geelong and some business groups' proposal for a tolled Geelong ring road.

PTUA Geelong Convenor Tim Petersen said that the City's obsession with a ring road at all costs, could lead Geelong down the ill-conceived path of proposing a City Link-style toll road. Mr Petersen said that this could mean that the operating consortium could sue the State Government or the City for measures that would reduce the number of cars travelling on the road.

"A consortium could seek compensation for decisions to restrict suburban sprawl on the Bellarine Peninsula and the Surf Coast, improve public transport links or upgrade alternative roads." Mr Petersen cited examples of City Link legal action against the State Government for compensation over the construction of Wurundjeri Way in the Docklands, and talk of a possible compensation claim over the government's now-scrapped proposal for an Airport rail link.

"There would be a clear conflict between the city's official policy to reduce car use and control urban sprawl in the region, and the toll-road operator's interest to increase the usage of their road," Mr Petersen said. "There is no magic private sector fairy who will build such a project with no strings attached."

Mr Petersen said it was also likely that with any toll road, just as in Melbourne, many motorists would try to avoid the toll and use the region's existing public roads instead. He said this would make a mockery of the City's apparent rationale for building the ring road, which it claims will significantly reduce traffic on roads through Geelong.

"However, as many studies have already shown, even a taxpayer funded ring road would still see the vast majority of drivers using the existing roads through Geelong. This is because the majority of motorists are travelling to, from or within Geelong; and the existing roads are the most convenient routes for most of these trips."

Mr Petersen said it was "very sad" that the City was considering having several hundreds of millions of dollars spent on a ring road, when it hasn't even got acceptable public transport services within the region. "The City and the powers-that-be have put so much effort into lobbying for a major addition to an already good road network, while completely ignoring our public transport, which is widely acknowledged to be appalling. Shifting only a fraction of motorists onto public transport would significantly ease the pressure on Geelong's roads."

"Improving public transport isn't just about providing a fairer or more environmentally-friendly transport system; poor public transport links were also recently given as a reason for not holding the Commonwealth Games triathlon in Geelong. Does Geelong want to continue to give those decision makers a valid excuse?"

PTUA Office 9650 7898

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Last Modified: 18 March 2002