Letter to The Age from Cr Jackie M Fristacky Chair Metropolitan Transport Forum
The Age headline, “The real plan is to push us back into cars” (15/12), is prescient about the government’s transport objectives.
These objectives are reflected in the $5M engineering study to create an expressway on Hoddle Street with concrete flyovers and underpasses at key intersections such as Johnson Street, Victoria Parade and Bridge Road.
Hoddle Street’s problems arise from the influx of vehicles exiting the Eastern and Monash Freeways. The Eastern carries 120,000 vehicles a day, while the M1 is being expanded to double its capacity. Hoddle Street congestion is compounded by the car centric approach to transport through building Eastlink and expanding the M1.
These key freeway expansions were decided without proper public policy assessment based on principles of integrated transport and land use planning.
Developed in secret, the Hoddle Street proposal has had no public input or consultation, or cost-benefit analysis. Nor has it been appraised against alternatives. The new $5M study is now an admission that the Doncaster Area Rapid Transit (DART) bus system will be ineffectual to impact on mode share to alleviate congestion on Hoddle Street.
The Government has been silent on the City of Melbourne, Yarra and Manningham joint submission to Infrastructure Australia, seeking a $5M feasibility study of a rail service for the growing Doncaster corridor.
The cost of the Hoddle Street proposals would exceed the $1.5B cost of rail to Doncaster. Other costs are added congestion at Hoddle Street intersections, huge lost opportunity costs, reduced road safety and amenity and increased emissions.
There is a superior alternative vision for Hoddle Street to be renovated as a key Melbourne boulevard and activity centre.
The Cities of Melbourne, Yarra, Stonnington and Port Philllip, through a joint Inner Melbourne Action Plan (IMAP) have endorsed improving the quality and design of Alexandra Parade and Hoddle Street as boulevards. Submissions to the Eddington Review and Government, proposed mass transit by rail from Doncaster to Carlton and the extension of tram route 86 along Hoddle Street from Clifton Hill to Richmond and South Yarra.
Improvements have been made through tree planting, footpaths and council assuming maintenance of street medians for VicRoads. The underlying objective is the development of our key parades as attractive assets like St Kilda Road.
The Dynon to Domain metro rail tunnel supports the boulevard status of St Kilda Road. Similar commitment is required for a metro rail system in the east to enable Alexandra Parade and Hoddle Street to fulfil their destiny.
The Hoddle family have suggested renaming the latter as Robert Hoddle Boulevard in recognition of the huge contribution of Melbourne’s pioneer surveyor, to the layout and liveability of Melbourne.
The alternative view for Melbourne’s key boulevards requires wide public debate and policy analysis, rather than a narrow $5M engineering study for a Hoddle Street traffic trap.
What do you think?