Victorian voters will have a choice of the East West Link or the North East Link at the November state poll after Opposition Leader Matthew Guy said the dumped road was his priority.
Mr Guy also said that congestion in the northern suburbs could be alleviated through his $5 billion policy of removing traffic lights and intersections at strategic locations in the north-east suburbs.
There have long been calls for Melbourne’s so-called “missing link” to be built between the Ring Road at Greensborough and the Eastern Freeway.
The Andrews Government has started planning work to build the road and tunnel project to join the Eastern at Bulleen.
Tuesday’s state budget included $110 million to continue detailed planning, consultation and business case development.
The budget papers state that the link would provide “congestion relief across the network, and will significantly reduce travel times on key routes (including a 30 minute reduction for trips between the M80 [Ring Road] and the Eastern Freeway, and a 40 per cent improvement along the Eastern Freeway).”
The project also includes adding extra lanes to the existing Eastern Freeway.
Labor will not sign the contracts before the state poll but promises to build it if re-elected.
Opposition says East West Link will ease congestion
On Thursday, Mr Guy confirmed that his priority was to revive the East West Link — a project Premier Daniel Andrews dumped upon election, costing taxpayers more than $1 billion.
Matthew Guy tweets: “Only a Liberal National govt will fix the end of the Eastern Fwy by building an East West Link before building a North East Link.”
“I don’t like the proposal that is being discussed by the Government, I think 15 lanes on the Eastern Freeway and destroying the Koonung Creek reserve is ridiculous,” Mr Guy told reporters.
“I’ve said for a long time that we need to fix the Eastern Freeway before we look at funnelling more cars onto it.
“My commitment has always been to fix the Eastern Freeway by building an East West Link.”
The Government says the North East Link will remove the need for the East West Link, especially for freight, with much of the Eastern Freeway traffic heading into the city not travelling across the inner-city suburbs.
Premier Daniel Andrews said it was clear Victorians would have a choice to build a road that should have been constructed decades ago.
“We think that the North East Link, a project that stacks up, a project that connects the Eastern Freeway with the Metropolitan Ring Road filling in that missing link,” Mr Andrews said.
“Not only is it critically important to make our road network much more functional, it will also create thousands of jobs.”
Mr Andrews also said the vast majority of people set to build the North East Link would be TAFE graduates.
RACV general manager of public policy and corporate affairs, Bryce Prosser, said both roads were needed.
“North East Link and East West Link are vital projects for Melbourne’s transport future,” he said.
“When built, the North East Link will change traffic flows, which means any future East West Link will need to be re-designed for better movement of people across the whole transport system.”