At last night’s meeting, Council unanimously approved the submission drafted by officers (with a small change to copy in local representatives) on the East-West Link road. The submission raises many potential issues for Boroondara, namely large increases in traffic on local and arterial roads, freeway noise and potential impacts of the widening of the Eastern Freeway.
Many councillors, including myself, also expressed concerns at the lack of information provided on the project. This issue is of particular concern for the proposed widening of the Eastern Freeway, given that Koonung Creek Reserve parkland may be encroached upon. These sentiments were echoed in the officers’ report.
The full list of issues specific to Boroondara raised in the submission are as below (from the report – emphasis mine for ease of navigation):
- The need to progress several key public transport infrastructure projects that are strategically important in meeting the current and future needs of Melbourne, including the Melbourne Metro and the new rail line to Doncaster.
- Widening of the Eastern Freeway and how this is to be achieved east of Yarra Bend Road and ultimately, through to Tram Road. Of particular concern is possible impacts to Koonung Creek Reserve and the vegetation adjacent to the Reserve given that the freeway reservation narrows east of Bulleen Road.
- Projected increases of traffic on major access roads to the Eastern Freeway, including Earl Street/Asquith Street/Valerie Street, Princess Street, Burke Road and Bulleen Road. These projected increases are of concern as these roads are already carrying high levels of traffic. Levels of through traffic in residential streets to access these main roads would also be expected to increase.
- The CIS has indicated that the East West Link project would safeguard the potential future development of the Doncaster Rail Line, but relevant details are not provided in the CIS east of Yarra Bend Road.
- Between Hoddle Street and Yarra Bend Road, the widening is to be achieved through the use of the median, however this will not impact on the Doncaster Rail, as the Rapid Transit Option shows that the rail line would be underground in this section. Of concern is the section between Chandler Highway and Bulleen Road which relies on the median. East of Bulleen Road, the rail line would not be affected as it is also intended to be underground. It is important that specific provision is made for the Doncaster Rail in the detailed planning of the Eastern Freeway widening.
- Changes to parkland in the City of Melbourne within the East West Link project area may increase pressure on sporting and recreation facilities in other municipalities. Whilst this is likely to impact more on the western suburbs, some overflow to the eastern municipalities, including the City of Boroondara could be expected.
- Council has and continues to be a strong advocate for improved noise attenuation measures along the Eastern Freeway in line with the 63 dB(A) standard for new freeways. The existing noise levels with current levels of traffic on the Eastern Freeway are already of concern and these will be exacerbated with the projected traffic increases in the Eastern Freeway of 40-50%. The need for noise attenuation measures to comply with the 63 dB(A) standard will become more paramount.
- Provision for bicycle facilities along the Eastern Freeway verge would minimise pedestrian cyclist issues and also provide cyclists with a more direct and convenient commuter route which would avoid the grade issues of the Main Yarra Trail at Belford Road and through Yarra Bend Park west of Chandler Highway.
One last note that I would like to make, from a personal perspective, is the need for bus service improvements to be included in any works proposed to be done on the Eastern Freeway. The capacity, frequency and reliability of current DART and other freeway bus services is severely limited by the lack of dedicated bus lanes along the Eastern Freeway, Hoddle Street and Victoria Parade. These services carry many thousands of people every day and are not currently being given the priority that they need.