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  • CityLink motorists hit in hip pocket until 2045 to pay for Melbourne’s Western Distributor
  • By Matthew Johnston, Alex White, Michelle Ainsworth
  • 10/12/2015 Make a Comment
  • Contributed by: Andy ( 2 articles in 2015 )
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CITYLINK motorists will pay tolls until at least 2045 to help pay for a new $5 billion road that will ease congestion on the West Gate Bridge.

The Andrews Government says it will partner with tolling giant Transurban to build the Western Distributor, linking the West Gate Freeway to CityLink and saving motorists in the west up to 20 minutes a day.

A $400 million widening of the Monash Freeway also will be bundled into the project in a bid to provide some benefit to southeast Melbourne motorists, and it will also include New Port of Melbourne connections.

The announcement comes ahead of an Auditor-General’s analysis of the costs of the dumped East West Link, which is likely to be tabled today in state Parliament.

The Western Distributor, which will create 5600 jobs, will be partly paid for through tolls and an extension of Transurban’s CityLink concession deed by 10-12 years — or until at least 2045 — reaping billions in extra revenue.

At least another $400 million will come from the State Government, which also wants Commonwealth cash.

The Andrews Government has proposed the state’s first variable toll for the Western Distributor, which is scheduled to start construction in 2018 and be built by 2022.

If adopted, it would mean cars would pay $4.43 to travel the length of the new road and tunnel in the morning peak, compared with less than $3 at other times.

However, the final details of the project, including the portal exit points, won’t be settled until March after negotiations between Transurban and the Government.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the business case showed an economic benefit of $1.30 returned for every $1 spent, and defended forcing motorists travelling on CityLink pay tolls for longer.

“Everybody benefits from this project because it’s about productivity, efficiency, maintaining our edge,” he said.


Opposition roads spokesman Ryan Smith said the project was still largely unfunded without federal government money.

“The 10-12 years extension of the tolling contract is going to bring a cost to Victorians for many years to come,” he said.

The Institute of Public Affairs also slammed the funding model.

The CityLink deed extension alone could be worth at least an extra $6 billion in tolling revenue in today’s dollars, while billions more will come from motorists using the Western Distributor.

As part of the project, the West Gate Freeway will be widened from eight to 12 lanes between the M80 and Williamstown Rd.

A revised plan for the project, which was first proposed in March by Transurban, could see the city-bound tunnel extended to 2.9km, and the Geelong-bound tunnel extended to 2.6km.

It will allow trucks carrying dangerous goods to get off the freeway using new ramps, on to Hyde St.

Yarraville resident Scott Ellerton, who created the Concerned Locals of Yarraville community group, welcomed a new design of the tunnel entrance at the West Gate Freeway, which would protect more land from construction.

Transurban chief executive Scott Charlton said there would be extensive consultation with the community about the final design.

“We believe the project can be delivered without acquiring any homes,” he said.

Some commercial properties in Yarraville are likely to be acquired, however.

Roads and business groups including the RACV and Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry have welcomed the plan, saying it will help alleviate current car crushes.

RACV policy manager Brian Negus said he believed “the Western Distrib­utor will significantly relieve east-west and west-east traffic congestion and will improve Melbourne’s long-term livability”.


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