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Infrastructure Victoria abandons contentious East West Link

Modelling of the road’s eastern section shows it would make very little difference to the traffic volumes on Hoddle Street, Nicholson Street, Lygon Street and other north-south roads used to connect from Alexandra Parade into inner Melbourne.

There is no “immediate need” for the East West Link due to other major projects being built, including the West Gate Tunnel, which serves the function of the East West Link’s western section, the advisory body found.

The benefit-cost ratio of the project estimated to cost between $9.1 billion and $13 billion is very low at 0.5, meaning 50 cents would be returned for every $1 spent on the project — a disastrous outcome for a multibillion-dollar project.

But preliminary planning for the road, including preserving land along the eastern section is recommended in case there is a need for the road in 20 to 30 years’ time.

Opposition transport infrastructure spokesman David Davis said the Coalition would not walk away from the project and hit out at Infrastructure Victoria, questioning its independence.

“The Andrews government has got them on a tight leash,” Mr Davis said. “Daniel Andrews and Jacinta Allan have total control over the bureaucracy.

“I think anyone sitting in their car at the end of the Eastern Freeway on a busy workday morning understands the need for the road.”

But Infrastructure Victoria’s chief executive Michel Masson said: “Infrastructure Victoria’s independence and evidence-based advice speaks for itself. We transparently publish all of our modelling, research, analysis and consultation results for all Victorians to see.”

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The advisory body has called on the government to start planning for the Outer Metropolitan Ring Road linking Thomastown and Beveridge in the north to the western suburbs of Mickleham, Rockbank and west Werribee. The road would be built with railway tracks in the median.

This would improve connections to current and future industrial precincts, Melbourne Airport, the proposed new port in Bay West needed by 2055 and the new North East Link.

Infrastructure Victoria has also called for a rethink of the tram line to Rowville which the government promised ahead of the 2018 election, saying this could be achieved with buses. The federal government wants the line stopping at Chadstone and Caulfield station to be serviced by trains.

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