PREMIER UNVEILS LINKING VICTORIA PLAN TO BOOST JOBS AND INVESTMENT
The Premier, Mr Steve Bracks, today unveiled the Government's blueprint for generating over $1.5 billion of investment in vital transport infrastructure over the next three years.
Mr Bracks said the Government's Linking Victoria program, in partnership with the private sector, would deliver the most integrated transport
infrastructure program Victoria had seen.
"Linking Victoria will revitalise our State's roads, rail, and ports, bring our regions closer to the centre of Melbourne, and generate enormous investment opportunities to the private sector," Mr Bracks said.
The Government's Linking Victoria program includes commitments to an airport-to-city rail link, fast rail links in regional Victoria, the Geelong Freeway upgrade, standardisation of railway gauges, the Eastern Freeway extension, the duplication of the Calder Highway to Bendigo, the Blackspot road safety program, and development of Melbourne Port.
Mr Bracks also announced plans for a joint private/public sector major redevelopment of Spencer Street Station.
"Spencer Street, the central facility for metropolitan, State, and interstate rail services, has been allowed to die a slow death," Mr Bracks said.
"Our plans include a multi-modal interchange for passengers on country and metropolitan rail services, the airport rail link, trams and regional buses, and commercial development so the station can better serve Victoria as an international business and tourism centre.
"The Government has commenced work on a master plan for the redevelopment of Spencer Street to give it new life and ensure it plays a pivotal role in linking Victoria."
Mr Bracks said Linking Victoria underlined the Government's commitments to providing decent services, giving Victorians a say in the decisions which affect their lives, growing the whole State, and responsible financial management.
"This Government is not about building monuments, but building economic infrastructure which works and connects our regions to the capital and our people to each other," Mr Bracks said.
"The Government has already committed almost $900 million to Linking Victoria projects over our first term and will work in partnership with the private sector to generate an estimated 30,000 jobs," Mr Bracks said.
Linking Victoria projects include:
ACCIDENT BLACKSPOT PROGRAM
A one-off special 'safety dividend' of $240m from the Transport Accident Commission will be used to fix accident blackspots across Victoria, with 50%
of funds to be dedicated to country Victoria. Works include new lanes, road alignments, sealing shoulders, better signs and roundabouts at busy
This initiative will improve road safety across Victoria, with local communities playing a role in identifying dangerous roads as part of an improved consultative process with VicRoads.
Details on the criteria for funding and public access to the consultative process will be announced in March, 2000.
EASTERN FREEWAY EXTENSION
The Bracks Government is committed to implementing the Eastern Freeway Extension to Ringwood. A six week program of community consultation on
tunnel options has commenced. Work has commenced on sections not affected by the options. The freeway extension, which is estimated to cost in excess $260 million, will improve the accessibility of the eastern suburbs, reduce traffic congestion and transport costs and provide major economic benefits to the region including increased business productivity, development and growth.
SPENCER STREET STATION DEVELOPMENT
A master plan is underway for the redevelopment of the station as a multi-modal interchange for passengers on country and metropolitan rail services, the airport rail link, trams and regional buses. The project will undertaken through a private/public partnership, and will include a commercial re-development of this prime CBD site.
The existing Spencer Station building is an inadequate, poorly-designed facility for rail passengers. For too long it has been a blight on Melbourne's CBD. It will be replaced by a state-of-the-art intermodal transport centre, with modern facilities including comfortable lounges, television rooms, restaurants, shops and an airport-style concourse, with links to the Docklands stadium and beyond.
The project will significantly improve services for rural and
metropolitan public transport users and international visitors accessing the City via the
new Airport Rail Link. It will create a more integrated transport system better able to
serve Melbourne as an international business and tourism centre.
A development plan for the project will be undertaken by the Department of Infrastructure over the next six months. Tenders are expected to be let later this year, with construction expected to commence in 2001.
Dock Link Road
The extension of Dock Link Road to the Dynon and North Dynon rail freight terminals will provide a vital intermodal connection between the Victorian
freight rail system and the Port of Melbourne at a cost of $3.5 million. The road will allow smoother transfers of containers between the broad gauge
country rail lines and the port, reducing costs to port users including regional producers and exporters.
Webb Dock Rail
Detailed planning will be undertaken to investigate the logistics and feasibility of an estimated $50 million project of extending rail lines to Webb Dock.
This project would provide better intermodal access to connect rail freight with the wharves, aiming to increase the share of freight by rail into and from Victoria's ports from the current average of 10% mode share to as much as 30%.
Feasibility of 3rd stevedore
To achieve greater competition for stevedoring business at the Port of Melbourne, a sustainable third stevedoring company will be encouraged to build and operate an international container terminal. Increased stevedoring competition will lead to higher infrastructure investment, lower charges, better services and a more competitive Victorian economy.
Port of Geelong Rail Standardisation
The Port of Geelong will be integrated with existing standard gauge network through the development of a standard gauge rail link into the port at a cost of $4.5 million. This project will provide necessary links between Victoria's second largest port and rural and regional communities in the State, opening up significant new trade opportunities for the port and improving its flexibility of operation.
AIRPORT TRANSIT LINK
The Bracks Government has committed $20 million towards the construction of a transit link between the city centre and the Airport. Current work to establish a planning reservation for the link will be followed by a tender process to identify a preferred developer.
Melbourne Airport is the primary gateway to Victoria for our overseas and interstate visitors. Over 15 million passengers flew into or out of the Airport last year and the number is projected to double in the next 15 to 25 years.
Many of the world's other premier cities are building transit links to their Airports to minimise the frustrations of long and unpredictable access times and increase the attractiveness and competitiveness of their regions.
FAST RAIL LINKS TO REGIONAL CENTRES
The Bracks Government has committed $80 million to the development of rural and regional Victoria. High speed passenger train services will be provided to the regional centres of Ballarat, Bendigo, Traralgon and Geelong. Current train travel times will be substantially reduced across all lines. Regional centres and corridors will no longer be remote from the jobs and services that Melbourne offers and their tourism and other business attractions need no longer be remote from the Melbourne and international markets.
Feasibility studies into these fast rail links, conducted in conjunction with the regions to identify the works required, are expected to be completed in March.
RE-OPENING COUNTRY TRAIN LINES
The Bracks Government is assessing the feasibility of restoring passenger train services closed by the Kennett Government, including those on the Mildura, Bairnsdale and Ararat lines. Services will be restored if this is viable according to feasibility studies now underway, and following any necessary upgrading of the track.
Expanding Victoria's network of country rail services will help promote regional development and tourism, and will deliver high-quality transport services to rural communities.
STANDARDISATION OF RAILWAY GAUGES
Victoria has a historical legacy of a mixture of broad and standard gauge railway tracks across the State. This constrains the efficient flow of freight around Victoria by requiring double handling of goods such as the movement of grain from the north-west to the port at Portland.
Rail freight lines will be converted to standard gauge where cost-effective and practical within the constraints of passenger train operations.
The Government has committed $40 million through the Regional Infrastructure Development Fund and will improve access for regional industries to national and international markets.
CALDER HIGHWAY UPGRADE TO BENDIGO
The Government is committed to continuation of the $370 million Calder Highway duplication, in conjunction with the Federal Government, with the aim of completion to Bendigo by 2006.
The Calder Highway is one of Victoria's most important regional highways, providing for local access and essential regional access from Victorian country areas to export markets in Melbourne. Between Melbourne and Kyneton the road has been duplicated.
Bendigo is a major rural centre in Australia, the second largest regional manufacturing area in Victoria and the only major provincial city not connected to Melbourne by a high standard duplicated road. Duplication of the Calder Highway will greatly assist the economy of the greater Bendigo area by improving access to key export markets, encouraging access to major tourist destinations, improving local accessibility and road safety and fulfilling its role as a key strategic route to northern and north-western Victoria.
GEELONG FREEWAY UPGRADE
The Bracks Government has committed $120 million towards the $240 million upgrading and widening of the Geelong Freeway in partnership with the Commonwealth Government by construction of an extra traffic lane in both directions between Melbourne and Geelong. The project will provide safer road conditions and more efficient access for local commuters, freight and recreational traffic.
Geelong Freeway is the only arterial road linking Melbourne and Geelong along the western side of Port Phillip Bay. It provides a direct road link for daily travel between Melbourne, Werribee and Geelong. Traffic using the Geelong Freeway includes freight traffic travelling between manufacturing areas in Geelong and Melbourne, trucks carrying export goods to the ports and accessing major industrial destinations. It fulfils a major recreational and tourism function by providing access to the west coast of Victoria. It is a road of strategic importance to Victoria and Australia.
Redevelopment of the Geelong Freeway will commence soon following the recent announcement of a $41 million contract to widen and upgrade the freeway between Corio and Lara.
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