At $10-$23 billion, the North East Link will be Victoria's most expensive road ever but:
- Another new toll road just encourages more cars
- This road will divide communities no matter which route
- Traffic will be funnelled to a few on-ramps, creating congestion
- Trucking companies will avoid the tolls and rat-run through our neighbourhoods.
- Sensitive environmental areas and cultural sites will be damaged
- Oversized trucks and dangerous goods will still use Rosanna Road as they will be banned from tunnels.
Investing in a public transport system that works is the best way to get cars off the road and decrease congestion:
- Our money is better spent on public transport improvements such as:
- Duplicating the Hurstbridge line
- Better, quicker signalling on Hurstbridge and Mernda lines
- More frequent and better connected bus services
- Public transport won't carve up the Green Wedge or Banyule Flats
- Our money is better spent on public transport improvements such as:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is the North East Link
The North East Link is a proposed toll road in Melbourne’s north-eastern suburbs. It would start at the M80 Ring Road in Greensborough, and end either at the Eastern Freeway or EastLink.
The toll road is being pushed by the Andrews Labor Government, although similar roads have been a dream of highway planners for decades.
What’s the solution for congestion in the northeast?
At present, people have few options when they want to get to work, school or the shops. They either put up with congested roads if they drive, or they spend precious time waiting for public transport that is poorly connected and often delayed.
There are some things that can be done now to greatly improve public transport options in the northeast:
- Duplicate the Hurstbridge Line. For much of its length, the Hurstbridge line is single-track. This means trains going in the opposite direction can’t pass each other. Duplication would mean more trains can run more often and there would be less delays and service cancellations. At present the State Government is only removing the single track between Heidelberg and Rosanna stations. The Greens are calling for duplication between Greensborough and Eltham stations.
- Provide better, quicker signalling. Like the rest of the train network, the Hurstbridge and South Morang Metro lines have rail signalling technology that is outdated. Signalling on both lines dates back to the 1920s6. Modern digital signalling would allow more trains to travel faster in each direction.
- Better bus routes. Bus routes that get people where they need to go, when they need to get there. This includes more SmartBus routes and more feeder buses to meet train services.
- Bus priority. Reserve road space for buses so they can beat the traffic and get passengers to their destination quicker. Permanent bus lanes and intelligent traffic control systems can be rolled out quickly.
- On-demand buses. Hail or pre-book a bus on your smartphone. Walk out onto the street to a specified point, and board with other passengers. Receive updates via your smartphone to advise what time you will get to your destination. The NSW Government is already trialling this technology.
All of these options could be done within 1 to 4 years and combined would cost far less than the minimum $10 billion price-tag for the Northeast Link.
To fix congestion on the Eastern Freeway, the only solution is public transport: Doncaster Bus Rapid Transit in the short term (by 2020), and eventually Doncaster Rail. Both of these options would also cost a fraction of the minimum $10 billion price tag for the North East Link.
What is the North East Link Authority?
The North East Link Authority is a state government agency that has been established to build the North East Link. It is currently conducting public consultation on four potential routes for the toll road.
What is the difference between the East West Link and the North East Link?
The East West Link is a proposed toll road between the end of the Eastern Freeway in Clifton Hill to the Western Ring Road at Sunshine West.
The first stage, proposed by the Napthine Liberal Government, was going to extend from the Eastern Freeway to CityLink in Royal Park. It would have cost $6 billion and taken 6 years to construct.
The Government’s own modelling showed that it would return a meagre 40 cents in benefits for every $1 spent, and worsen traffic conditions on Hoddle Street and other arterials.
A grassroots opposition campaign that was supported by local councils and the Greens pressured the Government and the then Labor opposition to oppose the road. The campaign succeeded, and the road was scrapped.
The campaign against East West Link called for “Trains Not Toll Roads”1. While the Andrews Labor Government cancelled East West Link, it has not increased capacity on train lines or started building the new line to Doncaster. Instead it has committed to building a new toll road – the North East Link.
How much would the North East Link cost to build?
A minimum of $10 billion, up to a possible a $23 billion.
The Andrews Government has provided a small amount of detail on four possible routes for the roll road. The cost estimate will depend on which route is chosen, and will vary depending on how much tunnelling is involved, how many properties need to be acquired, the number of interchanges with local roads, and how much sound proofing is included.
Even at the lower end of the estimate - $10 billion – this will be the most expensive road project in Victoria’s history.
At the upper end - $23 billion – it will be by far the most expensive road in Australia’s history, more than the $16.8 billion for the WestConnex Toll Road in Sydney.
It will rival the most expensive inpidual road project in the world, the Central Artery Tunnel under central Boston in the United States (colloquially known as the “Big Dig”). This was a calamitous project that is now a case study of bad transport planning and engineering design. It is unfortunate that the Andrews Labor Government is proposing a toll road project of similar scale and risk.
When would the North East Link be built?
If it proceeds, construction would start in the summer of 2018/19 and take 8 or 9 years.
Would the North East Link reduce congestion on the Eastern Freeway?
The North East Link would make congestion on the Eastern Freeway worse than it already is. And that is saying something, because the Eastern Freeway is the most congested road in Melbourne, with traffic crawling along at an average of 9km/h in the morning.
The North East Link would increase congestion on the Eastern Freeway by encouraging more people to drive to where they need to go, instead of taking public transport. The Government’s own transport modelling shows that it expects this mode shift to be so strong that 25,000 people a day will shift from trains to cars2. That’s up to 25,000 more cars in Melbourne’s north and northeast.
Would the North East Link reduce congestion on EastLink?
The North East Link would increase traffic on EastLink by encouraging more people to drive to where they need to go instead of taking public transport. EastLink travel speeds will decrease as a direct result of North East Link being built. Yet the owners of EastLink won’t care: more cars and trucks means more drivers paying more tolls, which means bigger profits.
Would the North East Link reduce travel times?
If it were to be built, the North East Link may reduce travel times for motorists for a short period. However, within 5 years, travel times would deteriorate and return to what they are today, and then get even worse. That’s not much of a benefit for $10-23 billion and 8-9 years of inconvenience and delays caused by construction.
Extensive research in cities around the world has shown that building more roads or widening existing roads invariably induces more traffic, such that travel times return to what they were before the road was built. There is a name of this phenomenon, and it is very well documented. It’s called “The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion”:
The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion:
“Increased provision of interstate highways and major urban roads
is unlikely to relieve congestion of these roads”3
Would the North East Link reduce the number of trucks on local roads across the northeast?
No. The North East Link would just push the truck problem from one neighbourhood to another.
In its early technical report, the Government has admitted that each route would push truck traffic from one area to another4.
Some local roads will experience an increase in trucks. This is for three reasons:
- Rat-running. Trucks will dodge tolls, particularly if they are empty. Instead they will use local roads to get to their destination.
- Local trips. The toll road won’t provide direct access to shopping centres and industries in the northeast, such that trucks will still need to take arterial and local roads to get to their destination.
- Dangerous goods and oversized loads. Every potential route for the North East Link includes some distance of tunnels. Trucks bearing dangerous goods and oversized loads are banned from entering tunnels for safety reasons. They will still have to use the same local roads they do today.
Would the North East Link have to be tolled?
Yes, without a doubt.
Daniel Andrews has said the road would need to be tolled, but would also require funding from the State and Federal Governments5.
If the North East Link is built, you will pay for it three ways:
- By paying tolls every time you drive on it, for decades to come.
- Through your State taxes such as stamp duty.
- Through Federal taxes such as income tax.
Will the Andrews Labor Government compulsorily acquire my home to build the North East Link?
The North East Link Authority has advised locals that compulsory acquisition of some homes and businesses will be necessary regardless of which route is chosen if the North East Link is built.
More information on the Andrews Labor Government’s plans for acquisition should become available in 2018.
If you are concerned about the impacts on your home and neighbourhood, please get in touch with Samantha Dunn MP.
Would the North East Link carve up local parklands, greenspace or school grounds?
All of the routes invariably include some carving up of local parklands, greenspace or school grounds. We have grave concerns for the future of Bulleen Park, Banyule Flats, Yarra Flats Park, Westerfolds Park, Wingrove Park, Wombat Bend, Birrarung Park, Eltham Lower Park, Lenister Farm, Griffith Park, Sweeneys Flats, Kangaroo Ground, Warrandyte State Park and the Eastern Freeway Linear Reserve.
Trinity College, Marcelin College and the Heide Museum of Modern Art may be affected if the Government chooses the route through the City of Banyule.
If you are concerned about the potential impact of North East Link on your local park, school, golf course or cultural site, please get in touch with Samantha Dunn MP.
Would the North East Link create a physical barrier in my community?
The North East Link will create a physical barrier through many neighbourhoods, regardless of which route is chosen. The road will effectively create wall which will cut-off access from one side of the road to other, making it impossible or very difficult for people to get to the other side by walking, cycling or driving a car. It will also limit options for bus routes, reducing connectivity through public transport.
What’s the solution for trucks in the Northeast?
The truck problem in the northeast is obvious to anyone who drives down the Greensborough Highway or Rosanna Road.
What causes the problem has not been adequately analysed.
The Andrews Government claims that the trucks are travelling from warehouses in the north and northwest to customers in the southeast, yet has never provided data to back up that claim. Yet there is already a non-stop route that leads from the north to the southeast: the Tullamarine Freeway, CityLink and the Monash Freeway.
Origination and destination studies could shine a light on where the trucks come from and where they are going. If they start or end their trips in the northeast, then the North East Link will be useless to them, and they will still need to go on local roads to get to their destination. The Andrews Government needs to come clean with these studies, and not keep the community in the dark.
The truck problem can only be fixed by putting more freight on rail and properly implementing truck bans on local streets to protect local communities.
1 Yarra Climate Action Network, http://ycan.org.au/campaigns/trains-not-toll-roads/
2 Lucas, Clay, “North East Link to shift 25,000 rail passengers a day to cars, says Andrews government report”, The Age, 17 December 2016, accessed online: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/north-east-link-to-shift-25000-rail-p…
3 Duranton, G., Turner, M. A., “The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion”, American Economic Review, Issue 101, October 2011, pp. 2616–2652.
4 North East Link Authority, North East Link Technical Summary, p. 41, August 2017.
5 Bell, F., North-East Link: “Victorian Government fast-tracks $100m for Metropolitan Ring Road planning”, ABC News, 26 April 2017, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-26/victorian-government-fast-tracks-…
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