The Victorian Budget was released yesterday with the majority of headlines throughout the media consumed by the announcement that the proposed East-West Tunnel has been given an additional $294 million to further preliminary design and procurement works. Mainstream media outlets have also questioned why the business case for such a project has not been publically released. At this point the Victorian public are still in the dark as to why nearly $300 million has been allocated to this project, even though Infrastructure Australia rates this project lower in importance than the proposed Melbourne Metro Tunnel that builds for the city's expansion rather than its congestion.
The East-West Tunnel as outlined by the government, will require partial private funding in addition to Commonwealth funding. It'll be interesting to see how the state government will incorporate private investment into what is essentially public infrastructure and which firms/conglomerates tender for the private-public partnership section (PPP) given that investors are already trying to bail from Brisbane's 3rd PPP tunnel as reported in the Courier Mail yesterday. At an estimated price of between $6 to $8 billion for six kilometres of tunnel one wonders if the cast of The Great Escape could deliver a tunnel somewhat cheaper?
Puns aside, all eyes will be focused on Canberra for next week's Federal budget - in 2011-2012 Spring Street made a request for $130 million in funding to do the necessary design and initial preparatory work for Melbourne Metro - is that what Wayne Swan might announce next week? Or will they attempt to lever their electoral chances by committing to help fund the actual construction of the project?
Nevertheless, large questions still remain over the East-West project. Rather than summarise what's been said by other media outlets, I'm going to just directly link to them. Updates will be posted throughout the day if any new sources become available.
UPDATE 2:30pm, 8/5/13
Government begins budget sell (ABC) * Premier to be interviewed with John Faine this morning, will link to any podcast/video the ABC put on their site as it becomes available.
UPDATE 10:30am, 8/5/13: In the above linked article Time Colebatch argues:
If the road is built as announced, without off-ramps to the city, it will reduce traffic in the inner suburbs, not add to it. Melbourne is a spread-out, low-density city in which most traffic is driving from one suburb to another. We need freeways to improve inter-suburban access, just as we need a Metro to improve access to the city and inner suburbs.
Curious, given that previous studies have shown that less than 10% of the traffic coming to the end of the Eastern Freeway actually travel on to the Tullamarine Freeway. I think Colebatch is missing something here: this new connection is about inducing more traffic to the area. What on earth is this freeway supposed to do otherwise? It's about a 2nd East-West link and the mess of Eastern Freeway/Hoddle Street is coming to Parkville/Travencore/Ascot Vale in 2020!
Were you happy or disappointed with the Victorian government's priorities for this year's budget?