Widened road to Melbourne Airport full in a decade: new five-year plan
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Widened road to Melbourne Airport full in a decade: new five-year plan

The Tullamarine Freeway will be full within a decade, the airport masterplan predicts.

The Tullamarine Freeway will be full within a decade, the airport masterplan predicts.

Photo: Joe Armao

Motorists on the Tullamarine Freeway will face significant delays within a decade despite the road's recent $1.3 billion widening, Melbourne Airport warns in its new master plan.

Yet the five-year master plan to be released on Monday makes clear that the long-promised airport rail link is not expected to be operational for many years.

The master plan predicts passengers passing through the airport each year will almost double from 35 million today to 67 million in 2038.

To cope with this massive growth in passengers and planes, the airport plans to next year start construction of a long-planned third runway, to run east-west.

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Jet noise overhead will seriously impact the amenity of thousands of residents near the airport, with the area affected growing by 32 square kilometres to 156 square kilometres of land.

Airport modelling shows Westmeadows and Gladstone Park will be the suburbs worst affected by the new runway, with an estimated 35 per cent of arrivals flying in over them to land.

The airport concedes noise impacts will increase by 26 per cent, but argues much of the extra aircraft sound will only heard over land to the north and west where there are no houses.

Owners Australia Pacific Airports want a rail line built to avoid gridlock on the Tullamarine Freeway, and their new master plan warns there will be "significant delays” if nothing is done.

The company, which has a 50-year lease on the airport finishing in 2047, wants to free up road space by expanding the number of customers who come via public transport.

Only 14 per cent of travellers now arrive via the Skybus from Southern Cross Station.

The airport’s managers believe a new rail line will increase numbers willing to catch public transport and not use their car to get there.

The last master plan, in 2013, called for the freeway to be widened from two to three lanes – work that is now almost finished.

While the latest plan firmly calls for a rail link to be built, it puts no timeframe on it beyond including it on plans for 2038.

While a train line is still many years away, the airport is planning a redesign of roads feeding traffic into the forecourt.

A new one-way elevated road will feed cars directly off the freeway into the airport's car parks servicing the four terminals, the master plan shows.

The redesign will double the number of cars and vehicles using the forecourt, the airport believes, and also deliver thousands of extra cars each hour directly into Tullamarine's lucrative car parks.


The airport already has one of the world's biggest car parks, with 23,000 car parking spaces for the public, and another 12,000 bays for rental cars, hire vehicles and taxis.

Staff driving to work at the airport make up 27 per cent of traffic each weekday.

The airport hopes to start construction of its new third runway by late 2019. It will take at least three years to build. The existing two runways are predicted to reach their full capacity by 2022.

Frank Rivoli is from the Hume Residents Airport Action Group, and a Gladstone Park resident who lives to the west of the existing east-west runway.

He resigned in May from a consultation group run by the airport because he felt the operator was paying only lip service to residents, while ignoring serious noise impacts.

He said the new master plan was disastrous for residents in surrounding suburbs, and that the most severe noise impacts would compel the Turnbull government to offer affected homeowners insulation.

Mr Rivoli said aircraft noise had increased dramatically in the last decade to now be ''a continual roar and vibration, which penetrates our homes''. The airport refused to acknowledge this, he said.

Another resident, Susan Jennison, lives in Keilor, immediately to the airport’s south.

She said residents in her area were continually told by the airport that noise was an unavoidable byproduct of living near an airfield.

“Well thank you very much, but many of us were here before the airport,” she said.

Transport Reporter at The Age

Clay Lucas is city editor for The Age. Clay has worked at The Age since 2005, covering state politics, urban affairs, transport, local government and workplace relations for The Age and Sunday Age.