14 March – Day Nine

Friday 14 March

5pm

After lunch, under LMA is questioning Higgs’ alternative design (1). It seems this option could potentially require four ventilation structures, which would have significant visual impact, and an extra tunnelling machine would be needed. There seems to be a number of issues with this alternative design, especially that there doesn’t seem to be any reduced impacts on Royal Park, and there are concerns about impacts on Anzac Hall.

After the tea break we move on to a new expert, Beresford on acoustics, who has been engaged by the City of Melbourne to look at construction and traffic noise. Beresford notes road noise will increase in Royal Park, with many areas exceeding the NSW Road Noise Policy limits for passive and active recreation (this policy is being used as there is no equivalent policy in Victoria). Beresford proposes that an appropriate limit for open space should be 58dB, rather than the 63dB proposed by VicRoads. Acoustic walls may be needed at Elliot Avenue to achieve noise reductions, possibly as high as 4m.

2pm

Higgs has prepared new alternative designs (1) reduces the interchange at Elliot Avenue and brings the portal closer to Flemmington Road, reducing the impacts on Royal Park (2) takes the tunnel under Ross Straw Field with portals close to Citylink.

Hicks for Moonee Valley City Council raises questions about the benefits of the Ormond Road off-ramps, asking what problem they solve. Higgs can not recall, says he has not done enough analysis to form a view about deleting the Ormond Road off-ramp.

Tweedie for LMA objects to the proposed acoustic presentation by Pitt for Melbourne City Council.

1pm

There has been lots of detailed discussion and differences of opinion about whether Citylink can cope with traffic going to the Port if no Part B is built.

Now Jim Higgs is presenting on road design for the City of Melbourne. Higgs presents his alternative design which reduces impacts on Ross Straw Field, but retains problematic Elliott Ave interchange. Higgs has provided a revised concept to deal with this which poses at least as many questions as it purports to answer.

The Chair is concerned about a proposal from Pitt to demonstrate the noise level to be experienced by people playing sport in Royal Park (by playing a noise). Council for LMA objects to this proposal saying this can’t be helpful, will likely be inaccurate and anyway, we can go to Elliott Ave and listen. Pitt argues going to Elliott Ave won’t be same as what it will be like with portals from the East West Link.

11am update

Today is the first day for the City of Melbourne to make its case to the Assessment Committee.

Pitt for the City of Melbourne argues that the Assessment Committee is not constrained only to an alignment within the project boundary, that the Terms of Reference do not rule out alternatives. Also, he says that while the alternative design by Higgs design is an improvement on the Reference Project, both options are unacceptable for Royal Park .

Unacceptable impacts on Royal Park, no permit exemption

Pitt relies on in-depth analysis of laws to argue that an exemption for a permit to remove trees and vegetation in fact does not apply to a road building project. LMA’s “constant reference to the absence of a requirement in the Planning Scheme for a permit for removal go trees in Royal Park is a failure to see the landscape for the trees”.

The Heritage Overlay (HO4) general exemption from needing a permit also does not apply to roadworks. Therefore in deciding on the question of a permit, there needs to be consideration of whether the proposal will adversely affect natural or cultural significance. The City of Melbourne contend that Royal Park is a significant part of the HO4 precinct. It is therefore appropriate  a condition be imposed for a permit that requires the road works be done in such a way as to avoid impacts on landscape.

No case for Part B

The City of Melbourne’s expert on strategic rationale and traffic modelling, Eric Keys also contends there is no case for Part B, as traffic volumes don’t warrant it and Port access can be ensured with changes to Citilink Lane markings. Part B can only be considered in context of Western link and “a wider assessment of options could determine a significantly superior option”.

Considerable discussion follows regarding Part B and whether land in Arden Macauley should be reserved – there needs to be further justification. Experience shows that areas reserved can subsequently be abandoned with the passage of time when the benefits are not seen to be as great as originally thought. Keys considers that if Part A is approved it would be desirable to know the route for Part B, but not essential.

Keys says that once you conclude that, as is the case with MetroRail, the feasible option is a tunnel where you have low disruption at surface and open up other opportunities. The final product is better in terms of city shaping.

Keys was only asked to review Part B. He acknowledges that Part A has some merit but as he has not seen business case he is loathe to form a strong view. When asked why he did not say Part A has merit in his expert witness report, Keys responds that there was not enough information in the CIS to support that.

Keys states that within a decade of opening tunnel will be at full capacity.

Morris for LMA questions Keys on other reasons why the proposed East West Link has merit. Keys lists a few with the proviso that there is always some level of benefit in these sorts of projects, however that  the key issue is the level of benefits compared to the costs.

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