East West Link will adversely impact ground water, heritage sites and parkland

The east-west link will adversely impact Royal Park, ten heritage sites including the Melbourne cemetery, ground water flow and contamination plumes according to the comprehensive impact statement released by the Napthine government this morning.

The statement said there will be permanent impact and “substantial physical change” at two locations in Royal Park with 23.27 hectares temporarily disrupted and 1.36 hectares permanently acquired.

The proposed tunnel section of the link will require excavation beneath ten heritage sites including the cemetery, former police complex and college church in Parkville, and Royal Park.  Consent will be required for works affecting heritage sites.

The tunnel will also act as a “physical barrier to ground water flow” by intersecting the north-south water flows.  An remnant river channel at the eastern end of the tunnel will be blocked by the tunnel.

“Some continued disturbance [during] the tunnel’s operation could be expected,” the statement said, including leakage through cracks and ground water migration.  “Ground water will need to be disposed of during operation.”

105 private residences and 34 commercial properties will be acquired including 13 homes in Bent and Barrett streets in Kensington.

There will be an increase in regional air-pollution and the removal of significant Moreton bay fig trees in Royal Park.

The statement listed areas that will suffer large adverse impacts: Bendigo St, Elliot Avenue, Ross Straw Field (that “could not be reinstated”), Trin Warren Tam-boore wetlands, Oak and Manningham streets, Moonee Ponds Creek, the residences in the building on the former Lombards site, Royal Park and Debneys’ Park.

At Debneys’ Park, a second elevated roadway will run alongside the existing roadway above the $2.5m playground recently constructed for children primarily living in the public housing estate adjacent to CityLink.

The east-west link was originally proposed in Sir Rod Eddington’s Study in 2007, but detailed designs have not been available until now.

The tunnel will provide “benefits associated with the removal of traffic from surface roads and reductions in noise levels”.

The proposed benefits include: reduced travel times, relieving the cost of congestion, improved freight routes, fewer crashes, an improved road link to the airport and better options for road-based public transport and cycling and walking.

The work would be carried out by 3000 construction workers per year working 24 hours seven days a week.

A key selling point of the tunnel is that traffic will experience reduced travel times of up to 50 per cent by 2031.

Thirty percent of cars travelling on the east-west link will benefit from the reduced travel times.

Currently, 54 percent of morning peak traffic travelling westerly on the eastern freeway does not continue as far as CityLink.

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