The North East Link authority is trying to find new locations for the businesses set to be removed.
But most, if not all of the businesses will likely be forced to move outside Manningham and possibly to the city’s fringe, due to the lack of industrial land.
Business owners are warning they may be forced to close, as their locale clientele would be lost.
John Donohue, who runs the auto repair business his father started in 1970, said the business may not survive if he is forced to part with his customers.
“It’s a bit of a shame that after 50 years of trade that I should even have to contemplate that,” Mr Donohue said.
While the government would likely compensate Mr Donohue for the acquisition of his property on Greenaway Street and any relocation costs, he doubts it would cover the full scale of his losses.
“If we sever out client base, I may as well start up in a country town, and as you can imagine, that involves building trust and getting a rapport going with clients which can take four to five years, sometimes more.
“I have four teenage boys … I can’t afford to retire at 54. We can’t survive without an income.”
Acting Transport Infrastructure Minister Melissa Horne said the road, which will link the M80 Ring Road and the Eastern Freeway would create more than 10,000 jobs through construction. It is designed to take thousands of trucks off congested north-eastern roads.
“A project of this size unavoidably comes with significant challenges – we are doing everything we can to minimise impacts while we deliver this vital project,” Ms Horne said.
However, families and traders say they cannot afford to lose the businesses they have spent decades building. Their stories are revealed in more than 850 submissions which have been made ahead of public hearings that will examine the environmental impact of the road later this month.
Italian immigrant Don Brazzale came to Australia with no money or English skills in the 1970s, and built three factories in the precinct which have become a nest egg for him and his wife.
Now, the couple in their 80s are highly stressed – they must find and purchase new properties which they are too old to do, their submission states.
The owner of Penguin Drycleaners said the business that has been family owned and operated for more than 70 years would also be forced to shut and 20 workers would lose their jobs.
Another business owner, Andrew Swaby, said his customers had already started getting their cars serviced elsewhere knowing the fate of his Bulleen Road shop.
Anton Dunhill, principal lawyer from Hunt & Hunt Lawyers, is expecting to handle more than 60 legal claims within the precinct that pumps $123 million into the local economy every year.
Research by Chorus Consultancy commissioned by Bulleen businesses found that the precinct’s workers are largely blue collar, middle-aged men who are unlikely to find more work. Many have had long bouts of unemployment.
Manningham mayor Paula Piccinini said there does not appear to be a financial support package for Bulleen workers who may lose their jobs.
“Why are these employees missing out? Is it just because they work for smaller industrial businesses? That’s not fair.”
Further north in Watsonia, traders warn that that 100 jobs could be lost if a road trench is built alongside Greensborough Road, from Lower Plenty Road past Watsonia station, as is currently planned.
While a series of bridges would connect housing and shops on either side of the trench, traders say it would cut off access and at least a tenth of businesses could close as a result.
North East Link chief executive Duncan Elliott said a Bulleen Business Liaison Group was set up to help businesses with their specific issues and planning and gaining approvals.
“The potential impacts to businesses in the Bulleen Industrial Zone and potential disruption impacts to the Watsonia shopping strip are being examined as part of the Environment Effects Statement process currently under way.”
Transport Matters MP Rod Barton said he would write to Planning Minister Richard Wynne about rezoning land in Manningham to help businesses relocate.
“To date there are no options on the table regarding suitable local offsets or how businesses will be valued,” he said.
Both the Victorian Trades Hall Council and the Australian Council of Trade Unions declined to comment when contacted on Friday about the job losses.
Timna Jacks is Transport Reporter at The Age
Clay Lucas is a senior reporter for The Age. Clay has worked at The Age since 2005, covering urban affairs, transport, state politics, local government and workplace relations for The Age and Sunday Age.