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East West Link will shave up to an hour off travel times, says Denis Napthine

Date

Clay Lucas

Premier Denis Napthine says his government's signature transport project, the East West Link, will shave almost an hour off travel times between the Eastern Freeway and CityLink.

But opposition leader Daniel Andrews said the claim was ridiculous, and repeated his call for Dr Napthine to put off signing contracts for the $6billion-$8 billion toll road’s first stage until after November’s state election.

On Wednesday morning, Dr Napthine and Roads Minister Terry Mulder released a report by consultants Traffix Group.

It showed a vehicle travelling between the middle of CityLink in Brunswick to the middle of the Eastern Freeway in Kew currently took up to 40 minutes on average during the afternoon peak.

It predicted that the same vehicle, in the year 2021 when the East West Link was open, would take just under eight minutes, if it was travelling at 75km/h.

But the government would not say what toll that vehicle would pay to use the road. ‘‘I can’t disclose that,’’ the Linking Melbourne Authority’s executive director Shaun Smedley told reporters.

‘‘This is based on a travel time of using the project. It does have an assumed toll price within the modelling but that doesn’t bear an impact on this because we are talking about just after opening and running at 75km/h,’’ he said.

Former VicRoads manager of network modelling and analysis Douglas Harley left the roads authority in disgust last year over what he saw were inflated figures being used to justify the East West Link’s construction.

He said on Wednesday that, if the same travel-time analysis was done a decade after the toll road opened, ‘‘a [toll] price of $50 to $100 would have to be charged’’ to achieve such short travel times of under eight minutes.

Dr Napthine said the study illustrated the need to get on with building the East West Link as soon as possible.

‘‘The outcomes from the report show that some people could run home faster than driving at the moment,’’ Dr Napthine said.

The report showed average travel time savings for vehicles using the East West Link of 27 minutes in the morning rush hour, and 33 minutes in the afternoon peak.

Mr Andrews said the East West Link project had been justified based on ‘‘dodgy traffic modelling’’, and that the new figures could not be believed.

He said signing contracts for the road – due to take place in October, just weeks before November’s election – should be delayed.

‘‘If Denis Napthine thinks this is such a great project, take it to the election. Let Victorians decide whether they want billions and billions of their dollars spent on a road that costs a lot and doesn’t do very much,’’ he said.

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