An artist’s impression of the entry to the proposed $5.5 billion West Gate Tunnel project in Melbourne. (Supplied)
Matthew Guy’s Opposition will block the extension of tolls on CityLink it has told infrastructure giant Transurban, creating a headache for the Andrews Government’s plan to fund the construction of the West Gate Tunnel.
Premier Daniel Andrews is set to sign a contract with Transurban to build the $5.5 billion West Gate Tunnel to provide more traffic and freight options between the city and Melbourne’s west.
West Gate Tunnel Project:
- New tunnels from West Gate Freeway under Yarraville
- Widening of West Gate Freeway from eight to 12 lanes
- 14km of new and upgraded cycling, walking paths
- New bridge over Maribyrnong River
- New elevated road along Footscray Rd
- Better access to ports, removing trucks from residential areas
- To be completed by 2022
Under the plan — which was as an unsolicited proposal from Transurban — tolls on CityLink would be extended for 12 years to help fund the project and minimise the State Government’s capital into building the road.
The State Government gave environmental approval to the project two weeks ago, with the Government agreeing to buy some homes in Yarraville.
But extending tolls on CityLink can be blocked by Parliament and Mr Guy has signalled the Coalition’s intention to block the toll extension in a letter to Transurban chief executive Scott Charlton.
The Government does not have the numbers in the 40-person Upper House, neither do the Coalition, but should the Greens also decide to block the tolls the plan is doomed.
The Greens are yet to formally oppose the road but have “serious concerns” about the project.
Mr Guy wrote the Coalition had serious concerns about the entire project, for various reasons, including that the Labor Party has no mandate to build the West Gate Tunnel, nor was any tender carried out for the $5.5 billion road.
Mr Guy also cited “dubious” traffic modelling and economic benefits from the project.
“We are highly concerned at the Andrews Labor Government’s proposal to force CityLink users to pay tolls for an additional 12 years in order to part fund the WGT [West Gate Tunnel],” Mr Guy wrote.
The Opposition is unsupportive of motorists in the south-east and the north of Melbourne having to fork out CityLink tolls for 12 more years “for a road they are not using”.
“No case has been made by the Andrews Labor Government as to why CityLink users should pay for a road that they will not use and from which they will not benefit,” he wrote.
Mr Guy however said that unlike Labor — who ripped up the contracts for the East West Link — an elected Coalition would honour any government contracts validly entered into.
Under a complicated process, extending the toll can be done by Government but it can be disallowed by the Parliament.
A spokesman for the Andrews Government said the Opposition was irrelevant to its plans for Victoria’s future.
“They built nothing in four years and they now oppose the congestion busting road projects Victorians urgently need. Melbourne needs a second river crossing — and only Labor will build it,”’ he said.
Transurban have been contacted for comment.