Residents reject East-West Link

[By Chris Slee] On November 12, a meeting of residents called by Moreland City Council voted unanimously to reject the proposed East-West tunnel/tollway, the first stage of which is planned to link the Eastern freeway with the Tullamarine tollway at an estimated cost of $8 billion. Residents called instead for the money to be spent on improved public transport. 

Attendance at the Estonian House in West Brunswick was 160 at the height of the meeting, though some had left before the vote was taken. Seven speakers addressed the meeting.

Andrew Munro, from the Metropolitan Transport Forum, spoke of the need for more investment in public transport.

Moreland City Council officers Shannon Best and Elaine Wyatt explained some of the impacts of the proposed tollway on Moreland residents, including loss of parkland and sports grounds, and increased noise for residents living near the Tullamarine tollway, which will be widened to cope with extra traffic coming onto it from the tunnel.

Ian Mack, from Yarra Climate Action Now, explained the effects of the proposed tunnel work, including exit ramps and flyovers, on residents of the City of Yarra. Some will lose their houses, while others will suffer increased noise and other ill effects. Mack also discussed the contribution of motor vehicles to carbon dioxide emissions and other forms of pollution.

Bill Richardson, an officer of the Moonee Valley City Council, discussed the impact on residents in the Moonee Valley area, where the tunnel comes to the surface and links with the Tullamarine tollway, including loss of parkland, sports fields, community gardens and children’s play space.

Tony Morton from the Public Transport Users Association described the proposed tunnel as a “criminal waste of money”, and called for the upgrading of rail, tram and bus services throughout Melbourne.

Moreland councillor Lenka Thomson, a member of the Greens, discussed some public transport improvements needed in Moreland, including duplication of the Upfield railway line north of Gowrie, extension of the North Coburg tram line to Fawkner, and improved bus services, as well as better bicycle infrastructure.

Sue Bolton calls for community campaign

Moreland Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton called for a big community campaign involving residents throughout Moreland. She called for active opposition, citing the example of the campaign against the eastern freeway in the 1970s, when the mayor of Fitzroy was one of those arrested for attempting to block construction work. She also cited the successful campaign against the Franklin dam. Bolton explained that a key aim has to be to delay the project until the state election in November 2014, thereby giving the public  a chance to vote on it.

Sue announced that a meeting will be held on November 28 to help build such a campaign (6:30pm, Temple Park Senior Citizens Centre, Gray St, Brunswick).

The Estonian House gathering was the result of a motion that Sue took to council in August and again in September to organise a public meeting and to allocate $20,000 to a Moreland Trains not Toll Roads campaign.

The following night at the November 13 council meeting, Sue moved that council endorse the resolution that was passed at the public meeting and set up a steering committee of residents and councillors to campaign against the East-West Link and for an additional $20,000 to be allocated to the campaign. Liberal councillor Rob Thompson and ALP right councillor Meghan Hopper tried to block any allocation of money to the campaign but other councillors recognised that no campaign would happen unless funds were allocated.