LeadWest pushes West Gate alternative to reduce congestion

Lobby group LeadWest pushes for alternative access to Melbourne’s West Gate Bridge to ease freight congestion

By Ruza Zivkusic | May 3, 2011

Representatives from Melbourne’s fastest growing region are calling on the Victorian Government to proceed with plans to build an alternative access to the West Gate Bridge to ease freight congestion.

Lobby group LeadWest, which was formed by councils in the city’s west in 2007, wants Transport Minister Terry Mulder to help relieve the bridge from further congestion.

The group wants the former government’s WestLink project, which was designed to improve access for heavy vehicles to the Port of Melbourne, to proceed.

The bridge currently serves as a critical link connecting freight, business and employment and is the only major route linking regional Victoria, LeadWest CEO Anton Mayer says.

"Victoria needs an alternative to the West Gate Bridge which is reaching capacity," he says.

"The amount of traffic passing through the Port of Melbourne is expected to double by 2035 as Australia’s largest port quadruples its operations, handling up to eight million containers per year.

"The efficiency of the road network in the western communities surrounding the port is critical to Victoria’s economy and congestion is currently costing the state as much as $2.6 billion per year and this is expected to double within the next 15 years.

"The uncertainty about the future of Westlink has left investment and development in the west on hold, to the detriment of businesses and communities in the area as well as surrounding regional economies."

The request comes days before the government is due to announce its first budget. The former Labor government’s $2.5billion road tunnel proposal from Footscray to Docklands is unlikely to go ahead.

"The West Gate Bridge on any morning going into the city is already chock-a-block. It takes a huge amount of time from places like Point Cook to make your way into the city because of the sheer volume of both freight and pedestrian vehicles using the road," Mayer says.

"If anything happens at the bridge then west of Melbourne and west of Victoria is basically cut off.

"Because the bridge is so crowded and you’ve got no alternatives, you’ve got an awful lot of truck movement between the port precinct and the depots in and out of western suburbs."

Mulder was quoted saying the government will fight for more Commonwealth funding to ease road congestion but would not comment on the future of Labor’s proposed tunnel.

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