Route 11 tram extension: pork-barrelling, underdone

Route 11 tram extension: pork-barrelling, underdone
Route 11 tram extension: pork-barrelling, underdone

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The pig is on the spit, slowly turning, basted at regular intervals. The customary apple in the pig's mouth is looking shiny and the minions, staring at the rotating chunk of pork, are salivating. All of a sudden, due to the lack of foresight and failure to maintain the equipment, the spike falls out of the rotisserie and the pig falls on the coals.

That's how I look at the story of the cynical vote buy in Batman and the in-trouble ALP candidate's breathless media release stating that an ALP government would extend the route 11 tram.

The proposal would see $22 million spent on a 1-1.2km tram route extension from the current terminus at Regent Street to 'the end of Gilbert Road'. According to the media release, it is the first stage in the eventual extension to Reservoir station.

'The end of Gilbert Road' would see a tram route, which, at present, terminates at a strip shopping centre, extended to another relatively useless terminus location.

Route 11 tram extension: pork-barrelling, underdone
'The end of Gilbert Road' would miss out on servicing RGZ in Reservoir. www.planningschemes.dpcd.vic.gov.au

As seen on the map above, the end of Gilbert Road (left of map) misses out on two things: servicing the Residential Growth Zones and connecting with the station at Reservoir. The wider economic benefits of this tram extension would only be higher if the entire route to Reservoir station were built in one go, therefore incentivising the redevelopment of properties on Edwardes Street.

And yes, the Reservoir station area is one of the state government's 50 level crossings that is scheduled to be removed - and that will in all likelihood incentivise new development in the zones shown on the map - but if a political party wanted to wave the cash infront of the electorate, can we at least do the job properly, in one go?

The ALP's figure of $22 million looks set to "buy" 1-1.2km of new track, and it looks as if it would be the same distance again to run the tracks right into Reservoir (down Edwardes Street) to a tram/train interchange, and doubling their own figures to $45-50 million could possibly pass the pub test.

Yet the return on that investment - we're still in pub test mode - would be greater if the line serviced areas which will allow change in land-use and also synchronised with the level crossing removal.

This election-focused policy announcement is a micro case study which has scarce detail, a demonstrated lack of integration with local planning issues/needs and no complimentary affordable housing policy; and furthermore it paints a picture of how far off the mark the Federal Government in Canberra will be if it decides to infringe further on traditional state issue areas.

Here's hoping that by the time of the next federal election, all political parties in Victoria will have a rich transport infrastructure plan - the one Infrastructure Victoria is devising - to cherry-pick for projects for their respective platforms. At least then, the electoral pork-barrelling won't be in danger of being underdone, or burnt to a crisp.

Lead image credit: Google Street View

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor

Alastair Taylor is a co-founder of Urban.com.au. Now a freelance writer, Alastair focuses on the intersection of public transport, public policy and related impacts on medium and high-density development.

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Trams Urban Affairs

Comments (6)

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JD1973
I've lived on Gilbert Rd for 15 years and I did not receive any survey or literature about this proposal. Gilbert Road has become increasingly choked by thru traffic and will be diabolical to navigate with the addition of a tram line. There is a perfectly good bus service which performs the same job. Spending $25-45m on this is outrageous when the Preston - Reservoir community is so poorly serviced in terms of secondary schools. That is where such money would be far better spent.
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crakening
As someone who lives in the area, which contains some of the safest seats in the country, and the safest seats at a state level as well, it is nice to finally have some token effort put in. But that is all this is, token, and half baked - which shows how little effort or understanding the local members and the parties have for the area.
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nwharr
There are also many other lines where a tram extension of this length would have substantially greater benefits than this proposal.
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Aussie Steve's picture
I agree with you Rohan. That extension to Plenty Road is a great and real option for increasing network connectivity.
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Rohan Storey's picture
To be at all useful, it should extend across the line at reservoir (incorporated into the planning for the level crossing removal) and keep going down Broadway, which has a wide reservation, maybe to bolderwood parade, past the primary school, and on to plenty rd and the summerhill shops, and then join the plenty rd tram to at least Latrobe uni. Increases networking possibilities, and gives uni students the option of tram to reservoir station, probably a faster way to get to town. Also rezone the route residential growth zone. Interesting to know the cost benefits of that.

Lookingupatbuildings

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