North East Link corridor plans released
by David Hogg & Sandi Miller
7th August 2017
OFFICIAL PLANS for the four routes under consideration for the North East Link have been released by the North East Link Authority (NELA).
The four possible corridors were determined through geo-technical investigations, traffic modelling, environment studies and discussions with community groups, businesses and local residents.
Premier Andrews made the announcement and said local roads in the north-east have become default freeways.
“North East Link will fix that — carrying 100,000 vehicles a day and creating 5,000 jobs,” he said.
However, Member for Warrandyte and Shadow Minister for Roads and Infrastructure, Ryan Smith told the Diary: “building the North East Link without a plan to build the East West Link will simply channel 100,000 vehicles a day onto an already gridlocked Eastern Freeway”.
Of the four routes under consideration, two are set to run to the west of Warrandyte.
The proposed Corridor B would cross the Yarra at Fitzsimons Lane and follow the current powerline reserve with an interchange at the Tindals Road and Reynolds Road intersection and join EastLink at the Ringwood end of the Mullum Mullum Tunnel.
Proposed Corridor C would cross under the Yarra near Crystal Brook Caravan Park and follow the powerlines to the same interchange at Tindals Road.
Both of these options would also incorporate upgrades to Reynolds and Springvale Roads.
Further West, Corridor A is proposed to travel 11 kilometres directly south from Greensborough through the Banyule Flats to connect with the Eastern Freeway at Bulleen Road; this route would include an upgrade of the Eastern Freeway to accommodate the increased traffic volume.
Corridor D is a sweeping 40-kilometre route which travels through Kangaroo Ground, Bend of Islands, Christmas Hills, Lilydale, Mooroolbark and Bayswater, with connection to Eastlink near the Burwood Highway.
Extensive tunnels are planned to protect the environment and cultural assets: Corridor A will be 50% tunnel, Corridor B is planned to comprise a minimum 70% of tunnels over its 24-kilometre length, while Corridor C will have 55% of its 26-kilometre route underground and around 40% of Corridor D will be tunnelled.
Ryan Smith said that having these four corridor options on the table “with a significant lack of detail, Daniel Andrews has created an extreme level of anxiety amongst residents who will potentially have their homes acquired”.
NELA Communication and Stakeholder Engagement officer, Kim Jordan, who presented the plans to local community groups said that NELA have discussed using the powerline reserves with AusNet and they said that to place the high voltage lines underground would not be feasible with the existing reserve.
“That leaves us putting the road underground and leaving the powerlines where they are,” Ms Jordon said.
She said the project “will be completed with a set of guiding principles”:
• Minimise impacts in communities.
• Minimise impacts on environment and cultural assets.
• Minimise impacts during construction.
• Optimise efficient use of resources.
Residents are invited to attend local information sessions during August or can provide their feedback online.
There will be an information session on August 19 at Warrandyte Primary school where residents can give feedback to NELA about the proposed routes.
The Diary will supply publish the NELA technical report on this website when it is made available, in the mean time, more details on the corridor options can be found here.
The Warrandyte Community Association (WCA) says that it is actively preparing for the short feedback period.
Convenor for the WCA’s North East Link subcommittee, Carli Lange-Boutle, says “the WCA is collaborating with other associations along the Greensborough-Eltham-Park Orchards-Donvale-Ringwood Route corridor to identify the potential benefits and impacts of the options.
“This consortium of local associations forms a study group, calling itself the North East Link Forum (NELF), which facilitates an understanding of priority concerns of each district, while also being a means to share information and ideas.”
Ms Lange-Boutle advises that each association continues to work to their individual objectives and priorities.
“The WCA’s priority is to help defend our village character, our natural Yarra River valley bush setting and the surrounding Green Wedge buffers”, she continued.
“The Park Orchards and Donvale communities are worried about potential impact on the Mullum Mullum Creek corridor and about traffic issues.
“The WCA has respectfully identified concerns regarding increased traffic pressure on Yarra Street from a possible ramp system at the intersection of Heidelberg-Warrandyte Road as a key issue.”
Ms Lange-Boutle said “We are devoting considerable effort into encouraging Manningham Council and residents that now is the time to get involved.
“Now is when we all need to communicate our core issues to NELA in response to the route option discussion paper.”
Ms Lange-Boutle said the WCA hoped “Warrandyte residents would take an active interest in this issue”.
These sessions continue the community consultation which commenced last month.
NELA received 7000 responses to their online survey and found the community’s three main issues were: protection of the environment, public transport and urban design.
Last month, residents of Nillumbik were given the opportunity to attend a series of pop-up meetings held by NELA, which were initiated by Nillumbik Council Officers and councillors Karen Egan and Jane Ashton.
Residents asked many questions of the NELA community engagement team with many of the question raised during the first pop-up meeting in Eltham concerned primarily with the routes plan to run through Warrandyte and Kangaroo Ground.
Narelle Campbell has attended several of the pop-up meetings as a concerned resident of the Green Wedge.
She told the Diary that NELA appeared receptive and welcoming of discussions.
“The NELA and Nillumbik Council pop-up sessions give us the opportunity to talk to NELA with our issues face to face,” she said.
Ms Campbell said that Nillumbik residents have been “turning up to these sessions to make sure NELA acknowledges and can articulate all of the reasons why a rural Nillumbik Green Wedge option is a bad idea in its own right and achieves a poor project outcome when compared to other North East Link options”.
Ms Campbell gave the Diary her impression of the reality faced by the North East Link Authority.
“The reality is that all North East Link Project options impact on people, homes, the environment, and create engineering challenges — there is no ‘easy’ build option, completing the Link now is about identifying the ‘least worst’ project option to achieve project benefits,” she said.
As reported in the May edition of the Diary, The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) have been advocating for a wholly aboveground option.
“Tunnels are expensive to build, prolong construction timelines, and cannot accommodate dangerous goods vehicles, which forces them onto other roads, impacting community amenity,” VTA CEO Peter Anderson said earlier this year.
However, Ms Jordon said the VTA’s preferred route through Chirnside Park would require some tunnelling, and that only around 1% of trucks carry dangerous goods.
Ryan Smith said the proposed North East link routes are an unprecedented attack on the Green Wedge.
“Daniel Andrews seems not to know or care about the impact this project will have on the local environment, Mr Smith said.
A final decision on the final route will be announced by the end of the year, with the Premier saying contracts would be signed in 2019 and construction commencing in 2020.