The proposed the East West tunnel in Melbourne’s inner north will be environmentally, socially and economically disastrous. It is not a solution to the problem of congestion on Melbourne’s Eastern freeway. It is draining money from other, useful projects all over Melbourne.
1. The tunnel will not fix traffic problems
The excuse of relieving congestion is a sham. Most studies show that about 80% of the traffic on the freeway turns to head into the CBD and the south, and not into the western suburbs.
Entering the city at a different point is not reducing congestion, just moving it. However, a new freeway can create new congestion problems, as more vehicles (especially trucks) begin to use the route in coming years.
New freeways always fill up, and require further extension. The first stage of the East-West tollway alone will increase traffic onto the already-congested Tulla freeway/CityLink.
2. The tunnel is a poor investment of taxpayers' money
The costs of the full East-West Link have been estimated to be about $6-8 billion, with a dodgy “business case” hidden from the public by the state government.
This amount of money could be better spent reducing traffic by getting cars off the road with better public transport.
$8 billion could fund a number of the large public transport upgrades that have been promised (but not delivered) for decades: upgraded train signalling; new rail lines to Rowville, Doncaster, and the airport; upgrades to Dandenong and Melton lines; extension of the Upfield line to Craigieburn and duplication of the track to allow increased frequency; grade separation at level crossings such as Glenroy and Coburg; and the removal of Zone Two fares.
3. It will destory community and homes
At present, homes on Hoddle Street and Alexandra Parade and in Moonee Valley/Flemington face demolition. Others may follow. Traffic flows will also devastate communities, flooding onto already congested surrounding roads.
Phase two of the project, a four-lane motorway west of city link, plus the exits from the tunnel, will enclose parts of Moonee Valley in a maze of roadways. Drivers avoiding tolls will flood onto alternative “rat-run” routes through surrounding suburbs.
4. It can be stopped
The state opposition Labor Party has said that it is opposed to the East-West Tunnel but it hasn't guaranteed to stop the project if it wins government.
The residents and communities who are directly in the firing line have initiated a series of peaceful blockades of work sites on the project. Community resistance can keep the issue in the public eye, and make it a constant PR disaster for the state government.
Residents all over Melbourne should support the protesters blockading but also spread the campaign into other suburbs. Everyone in Victoria will be affected if the tunnel goes ahead. If $8 billion gets spent on the tunnel, other crucial public transport projects will not be built. The government will only back down if the campaign can be turned into a Melbourne-wide movement.