East West Road Link

One of the most important reasons to oppose the East-West link is the destruction of the Western end of Royal Park. The State has been chipping away at this historic, loved and valuable park for decades. Indeed, Melburnians have been worried about this loss of publicly owned and treasured open space since at least 1945.

The Hockey Centre and Olympic Village have recently removed open space from the park. It is a death by a thousand cuts. The Eastern Freeway has destroyed the peace and quiet of Yarra Bend Park forever. Now it appears to be Royal Park’s turn for the road builders.

It is worth visiting the work of Enrique Peñalosa who completed his three-year term as Mayor of Bogotá, Colombia on December 31, 2000. While mayor, Peñalosa was responsible for numerous radical improvements to the city and its citizens. He promoted a city model giving priority to children and public spaces and restricting private car use, building hundreds of kilometres of sidewalks, bicycle paths, pedestrian streets, greenways, and parks:

“Urban transport is a political and not a technical issue. The technical aspects are very simple. The difficult decisions relate to who is going to benefit from the models adopted.”

“The importance of pedestrian public spaces cannot be measured, but most other important things in life cannot be measured either: Friendship, beauty, love and loyalty are examples. Parks and other pedestrian places are essential to a city’s happiness.”

“The world’s environmental sustainability and quality of life depends to a large extent on what is done during the next few years in the Third World’s 22 mega-cities. There is still time to think different… there could be cities with as much public space for children as for cars, with a backbone of pedestrian streets, sidewalks and parks, supported by public transport.”

“Why is all the power of the State applied in opening the way for a road, while it is not done for a park such as the Long Island Sound greenway? Despite the fact that more people may benefit from the greenway than the highway?”

Peñalosa is correct – the question that is not being asked is: “Who really benefits from this project, and who really loses. In the case of the East-West Road link it is the people of Melbourne who are losing more and more open parkland in the service of the almighty motor vehicle. Who gains? Well, the road builders – they make their profit and run. They have no meaningful social connection to the project, and no responsibility for the damage it does.

There is no Cost Benefit Analysis available for this project. Why? Surely the people are entitled to know how and why their own money is to be spent? According to Eddington, and others, new freeways return a LOSS of 50 cents in the dollar. How is this a good thing for Melbourne?

This loss of parklands is not only at the local level, it is occurring nationally as well.

New York is building parks as fast as it can:

Highline Park

Lowline Park

The closure of Broadway at Times Square between 42nd and 47th Streets has not only improved traffic flow in the area, but also improved business.

Many major cities are removing freeways: “Removing Freeways: Restoring Cities

Portland has removed the freeway along the riverside and replaced it with parklands. Far from being “impossible” as the traffic engineers insisted for decades, Harbor Drive was closed in 1974. Interstate-5 from the east side of the Willamette River is next on the list of freeway removals.

Paris closed the roadway on the Rive Gauche and turned it into parkland.

Seoul  removed a freeway and opened a park right through the city.

Update Seoul: About 15 expressways have been demolished since 2002. The city council plans to remove one near the main railway station and another at Seodaemun, also in the city centre. The mayor of Seoul, Park Won-soon, wants to develop cycle lanes and supports the return of tram[s]…

In spite of the road engineers’ bleatings: “you can’t close freeways”, the simple fact is that all these closures have had little to no negative effect on the life of the city, and in all cases improved the amenity of social and business life on the streets.

Why is Melbourne so backwards? Does nobody at the RACV or the State Government read about urban design?

These modern toll-road projects are a simple turn-key DBO (design, build, operate) financial instrument for private investors. They generate their own customers by negating the appropriate development of cheaper and more efficient alternatives.

Lazy, short-term political self-interest means most governments are looking for ‘ready to build’ projects they can commission and open with a ribbon cutting ceremony and a self-serving plaque, preferably within a single term of government. Where is the long-term strategic infrastructure planning and building we had in the 50’s and 60’s?

Please, review your support for this project. In every poll, a majority of Melburnians shout that they want the Melbourne Metro rail built.

We want public transport.  We are begging for public transport, and yet the decision makers are not listening.

Why not? Who stands to gain? Every time I hear the words “Commercial in Confidence” I know we are about to be ripped off. The “confidence” in that phrase refers to the confidence trick played again and again on the public.

The East West Road link will suck money away from public transport for yet another ten years, as did the Bolte, as did the Monash widening as did the Eastern. None of those roads have achieved their stated aims of reducing congestion.

It has been very well known for decades that building new roads INCREASES congestion.

“RACV general manager of public policy Brian Negus said completing the East-West link was a crucial step towards unlocking Melbourne’s gridlock, and would provide a desperately needed alternative to the Monash-Westgate corridor.
The East-West link will alleviate the massive congestion at the end of the Eastern Fwy and on both east-west and north-south roads in the extensive area north of the city,” he said.

You simply cannot build your way out of gridlock with new roads. It is logically absurd.

But this statement does demonstrate the mindset of the RACV and Vicroads managerial level. The glad handing and back scratching that goes on between VicRoads, the RACV and major road-building industry groups and the State Government would be a farce, if it were not so damaging to our city.

Negus’ statement above is incorrect and not based on any independent research. The E/W Link will, in fact increase congestion and invite more and more traffic onto the inner Melbourne road system. It will not alleviate, for example, if there is a crash on the Bolte area as recently, the ensuing congestion. It will send all that “new” traffic onto what will be an already full road, shifting the congestion from one area to another.

Mind you it is not surprising Negus is wrong. His response to turning two of the four traffic lanes on Princes Bridge from cars to bicycles was that we should build cantilevered lanes on the outside of the bridge for cyclists! Melbourne’s most iconic bridge, and is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. Philistine does not begin to describe it.

Freeways take up massive amounts of potential transport space, over-utilise them in peak hours – very inefficiently, and under-use them in all other hours, also inefficiently.

This is an example of the minimum impact the E/W Link will have on Royal Park:

We should not build the East West Road link. We should build a viable Melbourne Metro system set up for multimodal use right across the city, and especially in the new outer ring of suburbs. The “car as mass transit” experiment has failed utterly and completely. Why continue with it when there are so many better options?

Well that’s what I think anyway.

As of August 22nd, the Auditor-General agrees with me too.

Further thoughts on this matter 9/9/2013
Traffic flows can be analysed and modelled using the principles of fluid dynamics. Essentially traffic is a liquid.

The Tulla/Bolte/Citylink/Monash is one high pressure pipe. The Eastlink/Doncaster/Hoddle is another high pressure pipe.

Currently the two flows are separated by a series of relief valves in Alexandra Pde, Princes St, Elliott Ave and their flow-off systems. This alleviates the pressure from the two systems described above.

It is well known, and demonstrated repeatedly all over the world and also in Melbourne and Sydney that building urban roads increases congestion by a phenomenon known as “induced demand”. Roads generate more traffic, which fills them to capacity.

So what happens when you remove the pressure relief valves between the two high pressure systems? The prressure equalizes, of course, just as in a fluid dynamics experiment.

The East West Tunnels will be like dropping the final keystone in an arch (sorry for mixed metaphors here *sheesh*). My expectation is that the EWT will lock up the whole inner freeway system, causing more congestion than we have ever seen before.

Then you have the “phantom crashes” – where a freeway comes to a grinding halt. But as you drive through, there is no actual reason for the stop. This is a pressure wave, and EWT will provide the connection for these to reverberate right around the system.

A pressure wave in Citylink will travel around, just as a sound wave in water does, to EWT, up the Tulla and down the Monash, and then back up around Eastlink.

And what will the response of the roads lobby be to this increased congestion? “Oh we can fix this with a new freeway/widening/tunnel etc. etc.

2 thoughts on “East West Road Link

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