The East-West Link fiasco continues, with news that the citizen jury that Infrastructure Victoria established (after Premier Daniel Andrews dumped the East-West Link) has strongly recommended both the East West Link and North East Link be built.
It cost $1.1 billion for the scrapping of the link, as it was cancelled after contracts had been signed.
The citizen juries are made up of a mix of everyday people, ranging from students to scientists and tradies. The metropolitan jury confirmed what everyone already knew, and argued that the North East Link and East West Link would take trucks away from suburban streets and reduce congestion in the growing city.
While some members of the jury expressed doubt about whether there are many benefits to building new roads, they noted that the East West Link is actually about completing existing roads and the existing freeway network.
Ryan Smith, opposition roads spokesman, called Mr Andrews “the talkfest Premier” and said he needs to actually begin tackling the congestion problem.
“The government now needs to stop holding consultations and commissioning reports and start building”, he said.
The regional jury supports the airport rail link and proposed both private funding and an airport levy to help pay for it. It also supported regional bus upgrades and high-speed rail between Sydney and Melbourne.
Dr Tony Morton, president of the Public Transport Users Association said that the state is still dealing with “…the old Victorian transport industry groupthink that’s been leading us astray for half a century.” He also pointed out that Melbourne is the same size of London, with half of its population and yet continues to grind to a halt.
If Premier Andrews hadn’t decided to tear up the East West Link contract in the first place, it would be well on its way to completion, employing thousands of locals, and eventually reducing congestion. The $1 billion of taxpayers money could have been used to build 60 new schools or a major new hospital.