Tunnel closure causes traffic chaos

Closure of Melbourne's two tunnels has caused mayhem on the roads and sparked calls for a new east-west link.

By Ruza Zivkusic-Aftasi | October 3, 2012

Today’s closure of Melbourne’s two tunnels has caused mayhem on the roads and sparked calls for a new east-west link.

The Burnley and Domain tunnels closed at 4.30am due to technical issues with CityLink’s control systems, leading to severe congestion across Melbourne’s road network.

CityLink is still unsure when the tunnels will reopen but those caught in the bedlam will be refunded for all road tolls

VicRoads has been monitoring traffic and its impact on the network and is using variable message signs to warn drivers of the closures and to provide advice on which detour routes to take.

"We ask people to be patient if they are caught in heavy traffic as we don’t want an already clogged network to be impacted by further incidents," VicRoads Director for Road User Services Dean Zabrieszach says.

Victorian Transport Minister Terry Mulder says the closure is a timely reminder why the city needs a second east-west link.

Speaking on radio station 3AW today, Mulder says it is unacceptable to shut the tunnels at peak-hour commute.

"We have a situation that’s unacceptable and this will continue to occur unless we do something about a second crossing," he says.

"It just goes to point the fact that we are reliant on that one major arterial crossing in our city and we can’t continue to do that."

RACV General Manager for Public Policy Brian Negus says the chaos faced by commuters within 20km of the CBD demonstrates the critical need for the link.

"This vital tunnel from the Eastern Freeway to the Tullamarine Freeway, with an extension to the Western Ring Road, must be constructed to provide an alternative route across town for road users and to relieve the congestion in the northern section of the city which occurs every day," Negus says.

He wants the federal and Victorian government to each commit $1.5 billion to build the link and build it under a public-private partnership.

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