East West Link

Victorian planning minister Matthew Guy approved stage one of the East West Link toll road on June 30, ignoring key recommendations from the planning panel to reduce impacts from the project. Guy said he had granted relevant approvals for the project on the condition that the Linking Melbourne Authority redesign parts of the project.
Moreland City Councillor and Socialist Alliance member Sue Bolton delivered the following speech at the Trains Not Tolls rally in Melbourne on June 28. The rally was organised to protest against the new East West Link motorway. *** It’s great seeing people here from all over Melbourne, because this issue affects not just people from the inner city where the East West Link is designed to go, but it affects people from all over Melbourne and all over Victoria.

More than 2000 people marched in Melbourne on June 28 to protest the proposed East West Link motorway. The East West Link is to be a partially tunnelled toll road that would give commuters crossing the Yarra River an alternative to the currently overloaded West Gate Bridge. Protesters, however, said the East West Link will be excessively costly, will contribute to pollution and will generate far fewer jobs than an equivalent public transport project. Demonstrators also voiced concerns that the East West Link would erode Melbourne’s culture of public transport.

The East West Link is not the vote-winner that Victorian Premier Denis Napthine had hoped it would be. A recent opinion poll shows most Victorians are opposed to the state government’s plan to build the new toll road and want the money spent on public transport infrastructure instead. The Labor opposition says it opposes the project and would not continue the project if it wins the next state election, due to take place in November. That is, unless contracts have already been signed, in which case an incoming Labor government would allow the project to go ahead.
Public housing tenants and nearby residents gathered at Debney's Park in Melbourne's inner-west to protest the impact of the East West Link on public housing flats, Debney's Park and the Flemington Community Centre. The protest was organised by local Greens MP Adam Bandt. Yasseen Musa, a leader of the local African community living in the flats, told the protesters: “It took 15 years to get a sports ground, then another 10 years to get two soccer pitches and a pavilion. Now we have a soccer team for the African community.
About 140 people attended Manningham City Council’s forum on February 20 to hear speakers discuss the case for a railway line to Doncaster, Victoria. Doncaster Rail has been promised since the late 1890s and Manningham City, comprising 10 suburbs and only 12 kilometres from the CBD, is the only Melbourne municipality without a railway line even though it is a rapidly growing area. At the 2011 Census, Manningham had a population of 111,300.
Residents of Moreland in Melbourne's inner north have joined the campaign against the unpopular East West Link tollway tunnel. A community rally is planned for  March 30. Some of the local groups most affected by the tunnel in Moreland are sporting clubs. The Brunswick Zebras soccer club, the Brunswick Cricket Club and the Royal Park Reds cricket club face losing access to sports grounds while the tunnel is being built.
Every day at 5.30am, residents and supporters gather in the Collingwood area around Alexandra Parade to protest against test drilling for the government's proposed East-West Link tollway tunnel. Keith Fitzgerald stands to lose the house he has lived in for 69 years if the tunnel is built. He told Green Left Weekly the protests are about more than just his home. “They've got no right to take our heritage, our history, our parks and our clean air away from us. These are the vital things that we're fighting for and will continue to fight for.
A meeting of about 160 residents called by Moreland City Council voted unanimously to reject the proposed East West Link on November 12. The first stage of the major road project is planned to link the Eastern freeway with the Tullamarine tollway at an estimated cost of $8 billion. Residents called instead for the money to be spent on improved public transport. Andrew Munro, from the Metropolitan Transport Forum, spoke of the need for more investment in public transport.
The Victorian government has released the East West Link Comprehensive Impact Statement (CIS). Public comment has been sought until December 12. The consultation process ends in July next year. The proposed East West Link is an 18-kilometre road project, including a multilane tunnel, which would extend from Hoddle St to the Western Ring Road at Sunshine East. The CIS covers the eastern section of the proposed road, extending from Clifton Hill through Parkville to the Port of Melbourne precinct.

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