By Andrew Herington with Rose Iser

New documents started flying thick and fast along with a stream of seemingly conflicting traffic numbers and technical discussion about exactly what inner Melbourne would be like in 2031.

A strong crowd of community representatives settled in for day three to listen to a long day of mind-numbing statistics. The first of the Linking Melbourne Authority’s expert witnesses, Michael Veitch of VLC Consulting took the stand and spent the whole day under cross examination.

The questions jumped all over the place, but onlookers were helped by the assessment committee staff putting the relevant tables up on the screens as all the lawyers struggled to find the right folders.

Chris Wren QC, the Counsel Assisting spoke for the first time and through a succession of sharp questions quickly established that:

  • Mr Veitch was a traffic modeller, but not a road designer
  • The Melbourne Metro (and most other public transport commitments due before 2031) had been excluded from the modelling
  • The base toll levels remain secret, but if the toll is 50% above what was assumed in the traffic modelling, then traffic would be reduced by 40%.
  • The origin-destination predictions were the product of computer modelling and household demographic data – not actually surveying motorists.
  • Moonee Valley would get a big increase in traffic but with any road project there were “winners and losers”

For more details read through the Live Blog entries for Wednesday which includes a lot of the evidence given.

There has been a lot of focus on the so called Demon Diagram (because it is blue and red and lawyers love the Melbourne Football Club – see above). This shows in red the roads which will have more traffic in 2031 if the freeway is built (compared to if it is not built) and those with reductions in blue. However most of the “blue roads” will have more traffic than they currently do.

The CIS talks about a reduction of 20-30% in Alexandra Pde and the Government has talked this up as creating a “new boulevard for Melbourne”. Yet when the figures were unpacked – it was clear that there are currently 80,000 vpd (vehicles per average weekday). This is currently dropping by 0.4% a year but after an initial 10% drop when the freeway opens it will have returned to 76-79,000 by 2031.

Mr Veitch is not a believer in induced traffic. He says there is nothing in our forecast that says we will suddenly create traffic out of nowhere that will use EWL”. However he got a little lost explaining how the model predicts a 50% rise in traffic on the Eastern Freeway , if this were the case

Mr Veitch went further saying most urban freeways fix problems for around 10 years before reaching saturation levels requiring further expansion of capacity. This was confirmed by the revelation that traffic in the tunnel is actually projected to reach 116,000 vpd by 2031 – not the 80-100,000 figure used by the LMA. Chris Wren questioned what conditions would be like and secured an admission that they would be “Level of Service D” – which essentially means traffic crawling through – as in the Burnley tunnel.

Traffic on the Eastern Freeway would reach 200,000 vpd and it was said that whatever public transport investment were made, may reduce traffic in Hoddle St but wouldn’t impact on traffic in the tunnel (not going to the CBD).

The Flemington viaduct (Part B) came under heavy attack with it being revealed each lane would only be used by 300 cars an hour until the Westlink extension to the Western Ring Road was built in the distant future.

The Melbourne City Council campaign to knock off this part of the project is developing real momentum.

A significant problem for people trying to follow proceedings is that it is taking 48 hours for the official website to be updated which means a lot of the “current material” being discussed is not available to those who miss out on one of the 25 copies circulated in the room. The Chair announced that an official list of registered documents would now be circulated each morning.

Tomorrow will see three more LMA witnesses –cross examination of the disputed transport peer review evidence from Stephen  Pelosi, the road design evidence from Tom Brock (which gets into the issue of alternative designs) and Allan Wyatt on the urban design framework.

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  1. Day 3 – Public Hearings – East West Link (Eastern Section) Project Assessment Committee: Wednesday 5th March 2014 - March 6, 2014

    […] Day 3: Traffic Congestion in the brain by Andrew Herington with Rose Iser […]

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