A STRANGE LULL AT HALF TIME

By Andrew Herington

The tempo of the hearings dropped markedly today as the last of the council witnesses were heard.

Michelle Zeibots, a Sydney academic who has specialised in induced traffic gave a strong performance explaining in detail the numerous factors that result in overall traffic increases when new road space is provided.

The LMA has adopted a tactic of not arguing the detail but spending most of their time either trying to attack the credibility of the expert witnesses or luring them into agreeing there is “some merit” in the East west Link.

Of course, every transport project has some benefits for someone – especially if you spend $8 billion building it.

The issue is whether the benefits are justified compared to the costs and the social equity of who is benefitting (Doncaster residents getting to the airport five minutes early at the expense of sleepless nights for residents in the Flemington flats).

The gastro bug continued to take its toll with the villain being identified as the “boys’ toilet”. Those who were obliged to stay –either because they were paid to or had volunteered to blog regardless of the risk to their health – sat through patiently as the day dragged on.

After lunch, Alexandra Pde resident Kevin Roughana appeared and spoke passionately about the impact the proposal had on the local area, its heritage homes and the lack of thought and consultation that had gone into the design. He was particularly keen to find out why the LMA had not looked at the option of the tunnel starting east of Hoddle St.

The afternoon saw Yarra’s noise expert Neville Goddard in the stand, steadfastly batting away a string of circuitous questions. A low point was the flourish with which the LMA tabled the 1986 noise standards that the Cain Government had adopted and claimed a benefit because current standards are 5 dBa lower – ignoring the shift in community attitudes over the last 30 years..

A rare flare up occured when Mr Chris Wren SC zeroed in on the “hypocritical” noise standards whereby if VicRoads noise standards for external noise of 68 dBa in the daytime for existing roads and 63 dBa for new roads were not met the onus fell on the property owner to achieve a much tougher standard for internal noise.

The LMA insisted the onus would be on the construction body – but this seems to be only in limited situations.

The fact that NSW has much tougher standards, including limits for night time, was again raised and dismissed on the basis that the committee does not have power to apply tougher standards than exist for Victoria.

The noise from cut and cover was raised as a “consideration” on parkland users as was traffic noise but again no standards applied for this in Victoria – noise in parkland is actually allowed to be higher than is permitted near homes.

The slow drip of new information from the LMA continued with a paper tabled on the construction methods used for cut and cover but again lacking detail or any commitment that the cut and cover won’t extend across the whole width of Royal Park.

At the end of the day the LMA tabled its fifth attempt to explain the traffic figures for Hoddle St and Alexandra Pde and failed to convince the committee – so they asked for more time and promised to come back tomorrow for another try.

The LMA now have more than a dozen requests for additional information outstanding and often the material they table is only a partial answer to the issue they were asked.  There is a lot more being withheld than is being disclosed.

The councils have not used all their allocated time and the hearings are likely to end early on both Wednesday and Thursday. The LMA has been allocated some more time to go through the technical issues about the applicable approvals including the EPA Works Approval issues. The City of Melbourne has also been given an additional half hour to cover issues it had passed over.

The tempo will pick up again from next Monday when community and individual presenters take central stage.

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2 Comments on “A STRANGE LULL AT HALF TIME”

  1. jillyfrees March 26, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    Reblogged this on cara.residents and commented:
    Andrew’s doing a terrific job making meaning from the these long days at the East West Link Public Hearings.

  2. jillyfrees March 26, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    Thanks, Andrew. This really helps put the whole day into perspective: sometimes you can lose sight of the wood for the trees (or something like that).

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