Bicycle Network: Metro Routes
East West Link Tunnel Project
The East West Link is a proposed cross-city road to connect the Eastern Freeway across to the Western Ring Road being developed by the Linking Melbourne Authority (LMA). Stage one is a six kilometre connection from the Eastern Freeway to CityLink in Flemington. This project has the potential to seriously impact Melbourne's bike network.
$32 million on Parade
13 February 2014. The State Government has announced a massive $32 million renewal project on Alexandra Parade that will see separated bike lanes marching down the centre of the new boulevard. Read more here.
East-West: can do better
10 December 2013. The City of Melbourne has called for major improvements to the design of East-West Link, including major enhancements to the bicycle network which intersects the project corridor.
In its 446 page response the the projects Community Impact Statement (CIS) the council has proposed significant changes to the concept, suggesting designs which will have less impact on the parkland, neihborhoods and bike routes, including bike lane protection measures on newly congested streets.
It is highly critical of the impacts along the Moonee Ponds Creek, where the council has plans for a linear park.
In a survey of residents cycling and walking topped the concerns of the community, closely followed by the loss of open space.
Some of the councils comments include:
"The CIS should identify opportunities to install on road bike lanes along Alexandra Parade, Princes Street and Cemetery Road East and West," the council states.
"It should also identify the need to provide a quality cycle link along the alignment of Macarthur Road between the extremely busy Royal Parade bicycle route and the shared paths within Royal Park. No replacement for the current on-road bike lanes on Elliot Avenue west of the tram line is proposed.
"The CIS should recommend the inclusion of the realignment of the heavily used Capital City Trail at Flemington Bridge Station within the project. This would allow the elimination of the significant ‘switchback’ path that currently exits at the Flemington Bridge Station thereby providing a significantly improved connection between the Moonee Ponds Creek bike path and the Capital City Trail which has experienced a significant growth in bicycle usage following construction of the Manningham Bridge by the City of Melbourne some four years ago.
"The CIS also needs to state that the bike lanes and paths in the vicinity of the Elliot Avenue interchange and the Capital City Trail in the vicinity of the Western Portal will not be impacted by the construction of either of these interchanges.
"The on-road bike lane in Elliott Avenue should be upgraded with physical separation to increase safety for cyclists given the projected increase in traffic volumes. It should be connected to the off-road network at the interchange.
"The project should incorporate new and upgraded on and off road bicycle facilities along the east west route of Alexandra Avenue, Princes Street, Cemetery Road East and West and Macarthur Road, in addition to realigning the Capital City Trail connection to the Moonee Ponds Creek path at Flemington Bridge Station.
"The proposed construction the Arden Street ramps must not be allowed to prevent the construction of physically separated bicycle lanes along Arden Street between Langford Street and Wreckyn Street.
"When the Arden Street grade separation is being constructed the stations at Flemington Bridge and Macaulay should be upgraded and pedestrian and cycle bridges/tunnels built across the line to improve local east-west walking and cycling connectivity.
"Opportunities be taken to improve north-south pedestrian and cycle links throughout the length of Alexandra Parade, Princes Street, Cemetery Road, at all cross street junctions and including streets such as Drummond Street that currently allow for no crossing for pedestrians and bikes.
"Clearways should be removed in Princes Street; that more generous spaces provided for walking, cycling, landscaping, street trading/kerbside cafes etc.;
"Alexandra Parade/Princes St/Cemetery Road should be reconfigured as a tree lined boulevard with civic qualities that create this space as a place for people rather than one dominated by private motor vehicles and freight;
The submission also notes that the CIS says that after construction of the ramps to the Freeway in Parkville, noise levels will be high, but acceptable to "noise tolerant" recreation uses such as solo cycling. (!!)
Tunnel vision a blur for bikes
14 November 2013. The latest official report out of the East-West Tunnel project—the Community Impact Statement—has set alarm bells ringing about the future of inner Melbourne's hugely popular bike network.
Promises that East-West would have no net negative impact, and may even improve the network with associated new investment, are looking hollow if the Community Impact Statement (CIS) Report is any guide.
Although the document purports to make the case for the preservation and enhancement of biking and walking opportunities, a close reading of the document suggests a serious lack of knowledge at the Linking Melbourne Authority of how the bike network in Melbourne inner north functions.
The illustrated map in the report (click on image, left) clearly demonstrates a shambolic understanding of the cycling network. Click on image at right for a look at the actual network as the rest of us understand it.
It is of great concern that the first map is said to be based upon official State Government data. If the Government has such a poor understanding of the bike routes of inner Melbourne then it is guaranteed that poor investment decisions will be made.
The Traffic Impact Assessment (Appendix E) is also greatly flawed and demonstrates a large gap in the Government’s understanding of the cycling network, both existing and planned.
Throughout the CIS, despite repeated statements of inferred intent do good for cycling and walking, the devil in the detail clearly reveals the East West Project will not include anything beyond a like-for-like replacement, nor take advantage of stated lower traffic volumes to do more for public transport, cycling walking in locations such as crossing the corridor or specifically along the locations listed below.
- Eastern Freeway Corridor from Chandler to Wellington Street
- the Merri Creek and Main Yarra Trail Junction
- Trennery Crescent
- Truro/Keele Street
- Hoddle Street
- Alexandra Parade
- across Alexandra Parade/Princes St/Cemetery Road routes such as:
- Gold Street
- Wellington Street
- Smith Street
- Napier Street
- Brunswick Street
- Canning Street
- Rathdowne Street
- the Swanston/College Crescent roundabout which could be converted to a T-intersection
- Princes Park Drive intersection
- Royal Parade, Macarthur Rd/Elliot Avenue
- the Citilink precinct on elements such as:
- the Capital City Trail at Flemington Station
- Linking the Moonee Ponds Creek Trail across to the Capital City Trail
- Flemington Road at the freeway offramp intends to widen road capacity threatening the existing bike lanes
- Racecourse Road
- Ormond Road
- Arden Street
- Footscray Road and Citilink junction
- Appleton Dock Yard Rd intersection
- Moonee Ponds Creek corridor intent is unclear
It is time the Government made it clear to the Linking Melbourne Authority that the East-West project must follow government policy and like all major road projects, must provide enhancements to the bike network.
These commitments must be made explicit before the project starts. We cannot rely on other government initiatives to posthumously solve the problems that this project will create. The damage will already be done.
The Linking Melbourne Authority has demonstrated previously that it can do good things for cycling, as evidenced on the EastLink and Peninsula Link projects. There can be no weasling out of responsibilities this time—the stakes for cycling are much higher with this $8bn project.
Impact Statement not so comprehensive
31 October 2013. The Napthine Government has released the East West Link Comprehensive Impact Statement (CIS) and it has proved to be far from comprehensive as far as the impact on bike networks is concerned.
It is on display for public comment from 31 October to 12 December 2013.
On first pass it has revealed some alarming oversights in regard to cycling inMelbourne's inner north, with many routes either not mentioned or incorrectly recorded. We will release a more considered assessment in the coming days.
The draft CIS has largely overlooked many cycling routes affected by the project. Other elements which are alluded to through the document to give the appearance of positive outcomes, such as bike paths along Alexandra Parade, are in fact not going to be included in the project scope.
Of great concern is the action taken by the Napthine Government last month which effectively exempts itself from having regard to the impacts of the project. The passing of the Major Transport Projects Facilitation Amendment Bill effectively means the Government cn choose to largely ignore the Comprehensive Impact Statement (CIS) of the project.
These changes mean the state no longer needs an assessment of the impacts of the project, nor the methods considered to “avoid, minimise, or manage” those impacts. The legislative changes are shown below.
The CIS process is not due to conclude until approximately July 2014. Tenders for construction are bizarrely due prior to this in April 2014.
This means that the independent panel assessing submissions on the CIS will not release its findings to Minister Mathew Guy, and the Minister not release his final assessment on the CIS, until well after tenderers are expected to complete tender documents.
In effect tenderers will not be required to, nor be aware of, Community Impacts and Concerns due this blinkered approach by the Napthine Government.
The CIS documents are available here. Of particular interest is Chapters Two and Seven.
Major threat or major opportunity?
21 August 2013. The Linking Melbourne Authority has released detailed maps and artists' impressions of the East-West link and it has become clear that the project has the potential to either devastate, or enhance, Melbourne's bike network.
The project is massive in scale and cost and there is potential for mistakes to be made when it comes to bike facilities.
See the column on the right of this page for details of the current plans.
Bicycle Network has reviewed the East-West link plans and met with the Linking Melbourne Authority (LMA) in recent days to question and clarify the impacts for the cycling network, both during and after the construction.
Our detailed commentary on the maps is available here.
After in-depth briefings from the LMA it has become obvious that the project needs to be considered as two aspects:
- The areas immediately affected by the three ‘works sections’, and
- The wider bike network above and adjacent to the tunnel corridor
Following is a commentary on what Bicycle Network has learned and what is regarded as a threat to the cycling network.
Also outlined are the opportunities for the corridor that will be available when the claimed 20 percent of vehicles currently using those roads instead disappear down the tunnel.
The East West project will be divided into three main 'works sections'. The following is a summary of the impacts inside these sections:
Hoddle St/Eastern Freeway precinct
- Gold Street north-south crossing will be removed
- Truro/Keele Street east-west movements could be blocked
- The footbridge needs to be moved and upgraded. There is no east-west movement in place currently; There is an opportunity to reallocate space along Alexandra Parade for bikes
- Trennery Crescent underpass, the Merri Creek path and the Main Yarra Trail will need to be considered, maintained and upgraded as part of these works
Royal park/Elliot Avenue precinct
- Existing lanes along Elliot Avenue west of the tram line are under threat. The path along south side of Macarthur Road may become disconnected. The North-South path along the 55 tram corridor needs to cross tunnel along with proposed realigned tram crossing. The East-west paths along Macarthur/Elliot need to remain connected and upgraded. The path between tram corridor and Flemington Road could be moved toward road reserve to assist passive surveillance concerns and return parkland to open space.
Racecourse/Flemington/Citilink/Moonee Ponds Creek Precinct
- Existing lanes along Racecourse Road are under threat from overpass works. Inbound lanes need to be completed to link to Creek path (200m gap). Existing lanes along Mt Alexander/Flemington roads in-bound are under threat from overpass works. Existing inbound bike movements already face challenging transition from Mt Alexander Road across multiple vehicle lanes to bike lane approaching Elliot Avenue.
- This movement will be exacerbated by additional vehicles transitioning in same manner but targeting the left turn movement to access the tunnel entrance. The bike movements need to be considered.
- Moonee Ponds Creek Path may be affected by overpass structures near Flemington Road but also up creek corridor.
- Capital City Trail is under threat adjacent to the train corridor where tunnel mouth will be constructed. The path must be incorporated and diversion maintained throughout construction period.
- Flemington Station precinct with path ramp needs to be reconfigured as per Study done by Moonee Valley Council. Manningham Road path and on road lanes need to be maintained.
- Moonee Ponds Creek Path is under threat from the on-ramp along western side of the Tullamarine Freeway between Mt Alexander and Wilson Roads. The Dean Street underpass is challenged for available space. Existing switch back ramp needs to be replaced and Dean Street access retained.
- Arden/Lloyd Streets Precinct. Part of ‘Stage 2’ but concerning that an unnecessary off/on-ramp could be placed here which would choke up the local quiet streets and major bike routes along Lloyd/Arden and the Moonee Ponds Creek Path.
What will the wider impact be?
Whilst the specific construction impacts have been outlined above the overall corridor and neighbouring impacts also need to be considered. These include:
- The Main Yarra Trail - Chandler Highway to Dights Falls, and associated linkage to Wellington/inner routes
- The Merri Creek Path
- Heidelberg Rd/Queens Parade - currently a mish-mash of sometimes two, sometimes three lanes - needs separated bike facilities
- Welington Street - separated facilities needed
- All those north-south routes need dedicated bike facilities and priority in light phasings: Gold Street, Wellington Street, Napier Street, Brunswick Street, Canning Street, Swanston Street, Princes Park Drive, Royal Parade
- Along the corriodr itself; if the Napthine Government is serious about its Boulevard Strategy, Alexandra Parade can be reconfigured to provide separated bike paths in both directions now that an estimated 20 per cent of vehicles won't need to use this above ground corridor
East West could sever bike network
23 July 2013. Recently released plans for the proposed East-West Link indicate that the project could sever some of Melbourne's most important bike routes.
There is a worrying risk that unless well-planned mitigating steps are taken, the multi-year construction could seriously degrade access to the city from the inner northern suburbs.
This would clamp the burgeoning growth of commuting from the north, which has been the backbone of of Melbourne's expanding bike transport network.
A poorly planned and managed construction project, which cuts convenient links and makes access to the city more difficult, would unravel decades of network development by State and local governments.
With over 14% of vehicle movements into the CBD precinct being by bike, congestion on roads and public transport has been significantly eased. Ironically, the tunnel project could reverse this trend.
Our initial detailed analysis and network recommendations are available here
This detailed review of the impacts that the project threatens the cycling network with, also outlines the opportunities that must be included, assuming the project proceeds, to ensure that the East West Project delivers for bikes and upholds the Napthine Government's commitment to the 'Mainstreaming' policy.
As a result of poor bike outcomes from the Regional Rail Link project, Infrastructure Australia have since changed their funding criteria to effectively adopt the Victorian State Government's Mainsteaming Policy for bikes as part of major road and rail projects.
We encourage you to respond to the Social Impact survey and if this project is to proceed what it needs to deliver for bikes.
View Bike Network EastWESTLink issues in a larger map