Victoria’s East West Link road project is expected to be completed by 2023 following a commitment of $1.5 billion by the federal government.
Victoria’s multi-billion dollar East West Link could be complete by 2023 following a further injection of federal funds.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the coalition would match a $1.5 billion commitment it made for stage one of the East West Link project with funding for the second phase, bringing the total Commonwealth contribution to $3 billion.
This means work on the $8-$10 billion western section of the project can start next year.
The Victorian government on Monday began processing bids for the construction of the $6-$8 billion eastern section which is due to begin later this year.
Premier Denis Napthine said work on the two stages of the 18km road, which connects the Eastern Freeway with the Western Ring Road, will take place simultaneously.
Land will need to be acquired for the second stage but Dr Napthine said a large part of it will be in light industrial areas.
“We’ll certainly be looking to minimise private property acquisition,” he said on Tuesday.
Tolls will apply to both sections of the road link.
The split between government and private funding in the public private partnership will be revealed following the tender process.
Industry groups say the project will improve efficiency for business and commuters.
“Providing an efficient linkage to the Port of Melbourne, Australia’s busiest container port, is critical to coping with rising freight growth and a growing population in Melbourne’s west,” the Australian Logistics Council said.
The Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry praised the projected number of jobs to be created – 3200 in the first phase and 3000 in the second.
However Labor and the Greens remain opposed to the project.
Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt has labelled the project a waste of money and called for more investment in public transport.
Victorian Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said the premier was in panic mode before the November election to show he has a plan.
Labor has repeatedly called for the government to release the project’s full business case, saying it is based on “junk” numbers.
A resident of inner-city Melbourne has mounted a Supreme Court action in a bid to have the full plan revealed.
Mr Abbott said the East West Link was a vital project to alleviate pressure on the “choke point” of Melbourne and would provide a permanent boost to the Victorian economy.
“If we want to liberate people from the tyranny of hours and hours spent in traffic jams this is exactly what this city, this state needs,” Mr Abbott said.