Tag Archives: NELA

North East Link gets set to get boring

MAJOR WORKS are back up and running after the summer break on the North East Link, and 2023 is shaping up to be a massive year for the major road project.
Acting Premier Jacinta Allan announced the first pieces of the enormous tunnel boring machines (TBMs) are now being built, ready to arrive later this year.
Ms Allan said the project brings many big and important benefits to Melbourne’s northern suburbs communities.

“With tunnel boring machines on the way, locals are going to see a huge amount of construction as we get ready to start tunnelling in 2024.”

She said five road headers, including some used on the Metro Tunnel, are being refurbished to dig a section of the North East Link tunnels in Bulleen.
CEO of the North East Link Authority (NELA), Duncan Elliott, explained that crews were currently building the launch site box.

“This is basically a large concrete launch site for the TBMs, and they’ll launch [from Watsonia] and have a six-and-a-half kilometre journey south to Bulleen.”

The launch box will be 40 metres deep and 200 metres long and will include more than three Olympic swimming pools worth of concrete and 1,700 tonnes of steel.

There are 379 piles that will anchor the sides of the box with steel reinforcement. 

“Parts will come in later this year to assemble the TBMs, and we look to launch them in 2024,” he said.

Member for Ivanhoe Anthony Carbines said the project has been talked about for a long time.

“It is exciting to be preparing for the arrival of our TBMs — this is another important step in removing congestion from local roads.”

Away from the tunnels, Ms Allan said there’s also a range of works going on across the footprint of the North East Link project, including works at Lower Plenty Road to begin excavating tunnel ramps; realignment of Bulleen Road to make room for the new Yarra Link Green Bridge; and the major interchange connecting an upgraded Eastern Freeway to the tunnels — making sure traffic can keep safely moving on this busy road during construction.
She also highlighted the construction of Melbourne’s first dedicated busway, “which will become a big boost to bus public transport services for the northern suburbs”.
As well as the 34 kilometres of walking and cycling connections and new recreation and sporting facilities for this part of Melbourne.

“And then there’s also the Bulleen Park and Ride facility that will be completed by the middle of the year,” she said.

M&N Bulletin asked Ms Allan what support was being provided to affected businesses and institutions like Heide Art Gallery.
She said from the beginning NEL has had extensive and ongoing conversations with households, businesses, and with cultural organisations like Heide about how some of the construction disruption is impacting the local community.

“We do understand the construction of a project of this size and scale will have an impact on different parts of the local community, and will move along the corridor as work progresses.
“There’s a range of different support measures that are in place depending on whether you’re a trader, a business, or a householder, and we’ll continue to have those discussions on a one-to-one basis, tailored to what those individuals are looking for support during the delivery of the project.”

She said at the end of the project, there will be many benefits that come from getting trucks off local roads, “and we’re already seeing the additional sporting and recreational facilities that have been constructed as part of the project, and we’ll continue to have those discussions and conversations with the local community”.
Member for North-Eastern Metropolitan Region Sonja Terpstra said there is much to look forward to on North East Link this year.

“From the completion of Bulleen Park and Ride to the completion of the TBM launch box — this project is going to be a game changer for so many Melburnians.”

North East Link is a significant employer, with 2,200 workers already on the project, including 160 apprentices, trainees, and cadets, who have worked more than 143,000 hours.
Over the life of the project, North East Link will create 10,000 local jobs.
Ms Allan said the Labor Government is investing more than $20 billion in Melbourne’s northeast to improve the transport network, including North East Link, Hurstbridge Line Upgrade, Fitzsimons Lane Upgrade and removing 21 level crossings.
M&N Bulletin asked Ms Allan, considering the North East Link was set to deliver major local traffic improvements, if the works conducted at Fitzsimons Lane Project, which saw the destruction of the Eltham Gateway, were premature.
She said she did not believe that it was.

“The interface with the North East Link project was considered as part of that project [Fitzsimons Lane], but it was seen as a project that we needed to support.
“We needed to improve the ability for traffic to move in and out of the Eltham community to make sure it could be done in a safe way.
“And that project is now being delivered,” she responded.

The North East Link tunnels and freeway upgrades will be complete in 2028.
NELA forecasts travel times will be reduced by up to 35 minutes and the project will take 15,000 trucks off local roads.
The project is jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Victorian governments.

Have your say on North East Link

THE NORTH East Link Authority (NELA) has released its Environmental Effects Statement (EES).

Both Manningham and Boroondara Councils have had concerns over, in particular, the light industrial and sporting precincts in their council areas.

Manningham Council claims that 1,200 jobs will be lost with the loss of the light industrial areas around Bulleen and that the road project will take away public sporting facilities in the area.

In a special meeting on June 4, Cr Paul McLeish spoke passionately about the need for compensation for removal of these local amenities, particularly as they are situated on some of the only flat open space in the municipality.

The special meeting also heard public submissions, with public concern expressed for the welfare of the 350-year-old River Red Gum in Bridge Road Bulleen, which council have agreed is a of significant cultural and environmental importance and have included its protection as one of their recommendations, along with Bolin Bolin Billabong.

Based on the preliminary information provided on the proposed North East Link (NEL) project, Manningham Council has submitted 19 recommendations to the North East Link Authority (NELA), of those 19, the following are of significance to the residents of Warrandyte.

The upgrade of Templestowe Road (including an off-road shared path) should be included as part of the NEL project.

That a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service between the CBD and Manningham is incorporated as part of the Doncaster Busway proposal.

Ensure that public transport infrastructure and service improvements to the Doncaster Area Rapid Transit (DART) are provided.

Provide a number of improvements to the local bus network to support public transport connections between the City of Manningham and the La Trobe National Employment and Innovation Cluster.

Develop the existing Doncaster Park & Ride site to create a mixed-use Transit-Oriented Development (TOD).

That a corridor along the Eastern Freeway is preserved for a future heavy rail link to Doncaster (or that the Doncaster Busway is designed to allow for future transition to heavy rail).

To deliver a number of walking and cycling improvements including a new shared-path bridge across the Yarra River between Bulleen and Heidelberg and safer pedestrian crossings in various locations.

Enhance the Koonung Creek Linear Park and associated trails, including a safe crossing point at Doncaster Road and maintain the existing natural landscape environment.

Minimise or mitigate impact to several sites of (cultural, recreational or community) significance throughout the municipality.

Provide prominent public art at key “gateway” entrances to Manningham.

Ensure that no road tolls are introduced to the Eastern Freeway

Public submissions to the North East Link EES close at 5pm, Friday, June 7.

To have your say go to https://engage.vic.gov.au/north-east-link-project

The next step is for the appointment of an Inquiry and Advisory Committee (IAC) who will conduct hearings starting on July 25.

Those who have made a written submission will be invited to give a verbal submission to the panel.

Green Wedge bypassed as North East Link heads for Bulleen

IN WHAT LOOKS like the start of a year-long election campaign, the Premier, Daniel Andrews announced that Labor would be building Corridor A of the North East Link if they are returned to power following next November’s State election.

The controversial North East Link went to public consultation in August with four routes, Corridor A, by far the most direct route, is planned to connect the Ring Road from Greensborough, down through Bulleen to connect to an upgraded Eastern Freeway near the Bulleen Road interchange.

Corridor B and C were projected to travel through Warrandyte to connect to EastLink at Ringwood, and Corridor D was discussed as traversing 40 kilometres through Kangaroo Ground, Lilydale and Croydon to connect to EastLink — these corridors have now been removed from the table.

The Premier told ABC Radio the other options “don’t stack up”, saying the chosen route will see congestion on local roads in the north-eastern suburbs slashed, with up to 15,000 trucks taken off local streets a day, and more than 9,000 vehicles taken off congested arterials like Rosanna Road.

The proposal includes several companion projects, including up to seven extra lanes on the Eastern Freeway and a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) along the Eastern Freeway from the Doncaster Park and Ride to Victoria Park.

The BRT project will also provide more parking for commuters, and Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan says there will also be an opportunity to build a future Park and Ride in Bulleen.

“Buses will no longer be held up weaving on and off ramps, the Doncaster Busway will create a true express ride down the middle of the Eastern Freeway,” Minister Allan said.

With autonomous buses currently being trialled in routes around LaTrobe University, there is speculation that the BRT would make use of the electric powered, driverless buses in the future.

Manningham Councillor Paul McLeish says, “these enhancements to the freeway will be of some benefit to our community” noting that Manningham is “the most car bound municipality in Melbourne” due to the lack of rail services across the municipality.

Local Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith told the Diary: “While this is a good outcome for the sensitive environment of Warrandyte, it is now clear that the suspicion, uncertainty and angst that the Andrews Government put our community through was completely unnecessary”.

Mr Smith said the community meeting held at the initial announcement of the four options “made it abundantly clear that they believed Option A was a pre-determined outcome”.

“Their concerns have been ignored by the Andrews Government and their predictions have been proven correct,” he said. Mr Smith said that the Liberal party support the North East Link, however “the East West Link needs to be completed first as it will carry the added vehicles that a North East Link will direct to it”.

“Planning for the North East Link should be supported by proper planning that addresses the challenges of the project, and by genuine consultation with those affected,” Mr Smith said.

With a projected budget of $16.5 Billion, the Premier says this project will be the “single biggest transport infrastructure investment in Victorian history”. Manningham Mayor, Andrew Conlon said in a statement that Council has a number of concerns with Option A they will be seeking assurance on.

Council had previously resolved not to support Option A. Manningham Council spent $150,000 for a survey sent out to Manningham residents. 20% of residents indicated their preferred route — with support for the Bulleen Road route getting 35% of the share.

Corridors B and C each polled 27% support with only 7% supporting Corridor D. Councillor Sophie Galbally said at a recent council meeting she felt the survey results were an indication of preference for “anywhere but in my backyard”.

Councillor McLeish said while the council gave their support for the road in the September council meeting, the announced route will have significant impact on our community.

“There are many concerns we have for the liveability and safety of our community for the route that has now been announced, and I am certain that we as a council will work together to protect as best we can the desires and aspiration of the residents who are living along the alignment,” he said at the council meeting.

Manningham will be using the data collected from the survey to inform their future submissions to the North East Link Authority and to advocate on behalf of its residents.

The Manningham Mayor said that once detailed designs for Option A become available, “we will be actively advocating on behalf of our community on the issues they’ve highlighted to us.

“We will be looking at how to minimise project impacts and if any opportunities exist that could deliver benefits to our residents.

We also want confirmation that the Eastern Freeway will not be a toll road and that its median strip will be preserved for future transport options including Bus Rapid Transport and Doncaster Rail,” he said.

Neighbouring Banyule are understandably unhappy with the announcement as they had been advocating for Corridor C.

Banyule Mayor, Cr Mark Di Pasquale told the Diary: “Banyule Council’s position has been ‘Option C’ and was affirmed following a recent survey of our community.

“It is the best option to compliment Melbourne’s entire Transport Network Plan.” Although Cr Di Pasquale said that he believed NELA’s modelling was flawed.

“It is claimed that 75% of traffic movement will go south and then to the east, Ringwood way, and only 25% will travel south and then to the west, into the City. “Of this west bound traffic heading into the city only 4% will get there, it is claimed.

“I’ve grown up all my life in this area of town and many more people go into the city than that. “The idea of this road is overkill. “We may need a North East Link but a 10 lane road is too much,” he said.

The Banyule Mayor said NELA was assigned the task to investigate the best option for the completion of the Ring Road.

“What they’ve delivered is the ‘New Ding Road’ — A big ring road that travels around Melbourne and then has a ‘ding’ in it when you get to the North East.

He said that Corridor A also fails the “Grandkids test”.

“If my grandkids would think this road is a good idea then it would pass, but unfortunately it fails dismally; in 20 years’ time, we will be looking back saying ‘we should have built Option C’,” he said.

Narelle Campbell from the community action group Rural Link #buildthelinkbutdontsplitthewedge, who have been vocal opponents of Corridor D, told the Diary they have been “actively participating in the route options identification, analysis and assessment… to ensure NELA and government could clearly understand why the rural Nillumbik Green Wedge was inappropriate for North East Link”.

“As it turns out, government understands and agrees,” she continued, “North East Link Options identification and selection has always been about selecting the least-worst option, and in our view this has occurred.”

Despite Manningham and Banyule’s objections to Corridor A, Mullum Mullum Ward councillor, Sophie Galbally is pleased with the outcome for the Ward, although she told the Diary Manningham was always going to feel an impact from the North East Link, considering all the likely options were to come through the city.

“On the other hand, there is a sigh of relief that this time the Green Wedge will be saved from the possibility of destruction by a freeway,” she continued.

Following the announcement Ms Galbally held a community rally at Stintons Reserve, Park Orchards, which would have been in the direct path of both Options B and C.

“There is a sense of relief in Mullum Mullum Ward, but until the North East Link Option A is signed sealed and delivered, we should not be complacent,” she said.

Communities speak out against North East Link

Alarm at the potential impact of North East Link is ramping up.

At a recent forum in Eltham, The Greens MP, Samantha Dunn, stated she believes the four proposed options are “pitting communities against each other”.

Ms Dunn called for communities to unite to oppose the construction of the North East Link in any form.

“It doesn’t matter where it is… it isn’t the right direction for Melbourne, it’s not going to solve the problems that you have it’s going to create enormous impacts in your communities… it doesn’t matter which part of northern Melbourne you live in, if this project goes ahead it is going to impact your area,” Ms Dunn said.

Greens advisor Alex Mark told the forum:

“All of the options lead to a loss of amenity, community facilities, schools and established residences, they carve up greenspace and require the acquisition of parkland, they generate pollution, they generate more traffic on local roads… all of them will further entrench car dependency and urban sprawl.

“What hasn’t been shown by the North East Link Authority (NELA) yet is that they will create land use change so you will see, light residential become commercial, industrial or far higher density residential areas — and that is not something that is reversible,” he said.

Mr Marks then put forward a suite of public transport projects which, combined, would cost less for the toll road, including upgrading rail, bus and tram and freight services to better serve the north east of Melbourne.

Manningham council have sent out a survey to gauge residents’ views on the project.

Manningham Council say they will use the data advocate on behalf of its residents on the preferred route and the design priorities.

The survey is open until 5pm November 17. Councillor Paul McLeish told the Diary he is arguing for improved public transport to be factored in to the plan.

“The North East Link at this point essentially completely fails to address public transport in any meaningful way — there is no inclusion of park and ride facilities, there is no expansion of existing park and ride facilities contemplated in any form there is no apparent consideration of heavy rail.

“If you are trying to plan for Melbourne for 30 years, which is what this infrastructure is about, in 30 years the population will be between 7–8 million people living in the city of Melbourne and you are going to need that outer loop rail just to make the rail network function,“ said Cr McLeish. Meanwhile the recently launched North East Link Forum (NELF) combines residents’ associations of Warrandyte, Park Orchards and Donvale who have come together to respond to issues around Route B and C, which would most likely impact these areas.

“These proposed routes would mean a 3km stretch of six-lane freeway thundering through the valley,” said NELF spokesperson Carli Lange-Boutle.

“We have followed the NE Link Authorities guidelines and have learnt nothing further to help us truly understand the impact on local roads, traffic, environment and residents…we are calling on Warrandytians to actively lobby against the impacts of Route B and C and join us in defending our Village character, our natural Yarra River valley bush land and surrounding Green Wedge buffers,” she said.

To have your say, Manningham Councillor Sophy Galbally has announced she will be holding a No Highway in Green Wedge protest at Stintons Reserve on Sunday, November 26 from 11am–1pm or contact NELF northeastlinkforum@gmail.com for information on how to get involved with their campaign.

Warrandyte faces Ring Road as Bulleen says NO to NELA

RESIDENTS FROM across Manningham descended on the Manningham Council Function room on September 25 to hear and be heard about the proposed options for the North East Link toll road which is planned to be built in the next few years.

A very vocal contingent of Bulleen residents was in attendance to show opposition to Option A which travels through their part of Manningham leaving a small group from Warrandyte drowned out by the noise from the Option A objectors.

Manningham Councillor Paul McLeish is particularly concerned the huge opposition from Bulleen residents opens up Warrandyte as the “path of least resistance”.

“If the people of Warrandyte, Park Orchards, Donvale and Wonga Park don’t raise their voice, they could end up with a very poor outcome … we will end up having Warrandyte, North Warrandyte and West Warrandyte, cut in half by a major road bridge from Beasley’s through to Stinton’s Road — taking out Aumann’s, the Baseball Park, Crystal Brook, Stinton’s Football ground and Park Orchards BMX club; wiping out millions of dollars of community facilities,” he told the Diary.

Despite following different routes in the North, both Options B and C follow the same route through the southwest of Warrandyte while Option D takes a 40km journey through Kangaroo Ground and Lilydale.

With vocal opposition for Option A and Nillumbik Council expressing their opposition to both Options C and D, odds are firming in favour of Option B, but the effect of this road on the existing network is unclear.

“I think Warrandyte is in significant risk of increased traffic because freeways induce traffic and the limited number of interchanges means that traffic north of Warrandyte will be pulled towards the Reynolds Road interchange and the Reynolds Road interchange will be a magnet for traffic from across the east, for 360 degrees around it — it will be a magnet for traffic and that traffic will seek to avoid the tolls for the tunnels so you will see traffic pouring up Springvale Road and into the Reynolds Road interchange, pouring out of North Croydon into Reynolds Road, a significant increase in pollution, they are terrible outcomes for our community,” said Cr McLeish.

Spokesperson for the Warrandyte Community Association (WCA), Doug Seymour told the Diary they have provided a range of questions to NELA, and says that to date they have had no reply.

“There seems to be an imbalance between community groups providing valuable questions to help the Authority to focus their risk management processes while NELA [North East Link Authority] is not able or is unwilling to provide the meaningful feedback required for Warrandyte…NELA is not providing the data and information for us to understand the scale of the impact of Corridors B or C,” Mr Seymour said.

Member for Warrandyte, Ryan Smith is concerned with lack of detail provided by NELA, who has “only been prepared to give limited information to our community.”

“Potential impacts include a major interchange at Tindals Road, the loss of Stintons Reserve and emissions being expelled from the planned tunnels, which will collect in the valley — this is on top of the impact on local wildlife during the decade long construction period.

“It is important that the severity of these impacts are accurately communicated to residents so they can give informed feedback to the government,” he said.

Following the public forum, Manningham Council discussed the framework of its submission to NELA. During the meeting, several motions were debated with two being adopted. Councillor Paula Piccinini from Heide Ward successfully passed a motion for Council to oppose Option A, however Cr McLeish was unsuccessful in his amendment to offer the same unqualified objection to options B and C.

“All of the effects that are proposed in Bulleen are similarly proposed in Mullum Mullum [ward]… these areas are no less sensitive than the Bolin Bolin area in Bulleen, I cannot see why we should seek to nominate losers in this proposal by selectively picking a winner in Bulleen by saying it should not have a route through it, surely we as a council can do what we are elected to do, to stand on the principals we espouse for this particular project, to protect the amenity of all residents of our city, not just the selected residents who are impacted in Bulleen, if we are going to speak against these attributes then surely that is a motion to speak against the entire proposal”, he told Council.

Manningham Mayor, Cr Michelle Kleinert told the Diary that the aim of the motion is to highlight the preliminary local issues, opportunities and concerns to NELA.

“With three of the four proposed route options going through Manningham but very limited information available to make a solid analysis and evaluation of each route. Council is also requesting NELA undertake and provide further technical information and a detailed impact assessment of each of the four corridor options, and to further engage with the community and Council on the matter”.

Cr Kleinert successfully proposed to survey of all Manningham residents to inform Council of all residents’ views, not merely the vocal activists from the Bulleen area.

“The survey will be distributed in October to hear from all members of our community that could be affected, should route option A, B or C be NELA and the State Government’s preferred route.

“The results of the survey will be shared with the Manningham community and passed on to NELA to incorporate into their engagement,” she said.

Councillor Anna Chen noted that she supported the motion to object to Option A because of the passionate representation from the Bulleen community at the Manningham forum.

“You can hear the voices from the community,” she said to councillors.

Councillor McLeish told the Diary he was disappointed that his amendment to Cr Piccinini’s motion was unsuccessful, however “I will continue to protect Warrandyte and its community”, he said.

From the outset Corridor A has seemed to be the preferred route, but significant political, municipal and community pressure is building for Corridor B to be selected.

We need to be prepared for what this means for Warrandyte.

 

North East Link Forum

A group of residents effected by routes B and C have joined together to form the North East Link Forum (NELF), the group have also submitted a formal concerns paper to NELA.

This group is deeply concerned with the impact Corridors B and/or C will have on Warrandyte, Park Orchards and Donvale if either of these Corridors is selected.

If you are interested in what NELF are doing, you can find them on Facebook.

October 2017

To Download your copy of the October editor of the Warrandyte Diary, click here.

North East Link corridor plans released

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”.

Routing options

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.

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North East Link planning hots up

ACTIVITY IS RAMPING up in the planning for the North East Link, and the route to be chosen is by far the most contentious issue.

North East Link Authority (NELA)

NELA has confirmed their process of consultation will commence in July/August.

Their current investigations are concentrating on geotechnical testing and analysis.

Their website has a short video on the current program of drilling to take soil samples from 24 sites.

Geotechnical study sites (North East Link Authority website)

Whilst the line of drillings to the west of Warrandyte follows the expected path of the central route past Beasley’s Nursery, there is one curious drilling location shown in Warrandyte, south of the river around the Stonehouse Café area.

Katie Hall, Corporate Communications and Media Manager North East Link Authority, told the Diary “the drill locations on the video map are indicative of where drilling will take place but are not exact.

“Where the rigs are set up depends on where there is a suitable location such as a VicRoads reservation, and where we are missing information regarding the soil and rock profiles,” she said.

The current investigations will look at the suitability of tunnelling, cut and fill, gradients, vegetation, environmental and socioeconomic considerations.

NELA will then identify several corridors.

Each of the identified corridors will have a full analysis of the positives and negatives for each.

This process will not select a route for the NE Link; it is a broad corridor identification process only.

After the corridors have been identified, the first full round of public consultation by NELA will commence.

The consultations will allow the public to have input into the corridors identified and to make submissions with respect to their suitability.

Nillumbik Pro-Active Landowners (PALs)

The PALs group conducted a survey via their Facebook page, this survey received 146 responses.

47% of the responders were from Kangaroo Ground while only 1% were from North Warrandyte.

The overwhelming majority (94%) of respondents supported the North East Link with only 5% saying they did not support it.

While 70% objected to the road being built in Nillumbik, with 25% saying they approved of a Green Wedge route, and 65% supporting the link being mainly tunnel (12% against).

Spokesman for the PALs group, Max Parsons, told the Diary PALs will be working to ensure NELA understand, acknowledge and appreciate the importance of the Green Wedge to the residents and landowners in Nillumbik, as well as its state and national significance, Mr Parsons also stressed the importance of financial compensation for landowners.

“With a determined view to the primacy of human life in relation to bush fire risk, the loss of vegetation and Green Wedge areas, the dissection of and disruption to existing communities and the isolation of native fauna must all be factored into the equation to select an appropriate route for the North East Link.

“Should the North East Link proceed, affected landowners must receive appropriate market-based compensation for any acquired land or adjoining affected properties,” he said.

Warrandyte Community Association (WCA)

The WCA has expressed concern Banyule Council and residents are mounting a well-organised campaign advocating the Central Option to the west of Warrandyte as preferable to the shorter route running down to andunder the Banyule river flats to join the Eastern Freeway at Bulleen.

Convenor of the Warrandyte Community Association subcommittee working on this issue, Carli Lange-Boutle, feels the action in Banyule could have serious impact on Warrandyte.

“The Government plans to start construction on the Link in 2019 and community groups and Councils along the various routes are linking up and preparing to argue against a route through their communities,” she said

The WCA understands the public will have only six weeks in which to respond to the NELA Route Options paper, planned for issue in late July so the research needed to lodge an objection needs to begin now.

The WCA is alarmed at the potential impact of the Greensborough–Ringwood route.

The borehole location figure on the NELA website confirms the Authority is considering an alignment parallel to the high voltage powerline easements running from St Helena to Ringwood, crossing or passing under the Yarra River near Target Road in Warrandyte.

At 19 km long, this route would be over twice the length of the Banyule route and unless extensive tunnelling is used, it would impact the Diamond and Mullum Mullum Creeks, as well as the Yarra River.

Mrs Lange-Boutle says, “Access ramps at Reynolds Road near Springvale Rd seem likely for this route option and this could generate serious traffic volumes for Yarra Street Warrandyte, including Warrandyte Bridge traffic and through the neighbouring Donvale and Park Orchards.

“There is also great concern for the health of the Mullum Mullum Creek and Yarra River.

“We need to consider all impacts to our communities; economically, socially and environmentally,” she said.

There is also pressure from the east.

Nillumbik groups are preparing to argue against the routes through the Green Wedge areas of Kangaroo Ground and Christmas Hills; there are serious environmental issues along these routes too.

The WCA has urged Warrandyte residents to take an active interest on this issue

Manningham City Council

Unlike other municipalities, Manningham City Council seems to be sitting on the fence when it comesto taking a position on the route the North East Link should take.

Last month Director of Assets and Engineering, Leigh Harrison, advised the Diary the “council does not currently have a formal position on the proposal”.

The council has an Integrated Transport Advisory Subcommittee (ITAC), but Mr Harrison advised “The ITAC is an advisory committee and, as such, does not formulate policy for Council’s consideration.

“The committee can agree on a view in relation to North East Link however, to date, the level of detail associated with the North East Link is too abstract to determine any concrete direction,” he said.

Their reluctance to take a position is perhaps understandable when it is considered a number of route options pass within their boundaries.

Nillumbik Shire Council

Nillumbik council officers and Councillors Karen Egan and Jane Ashton have reached agreement with NELA to hold several information sessions for local communities within the Nillumbik investigation area to talk with NELA representatives about their process, opportunities, issues and the challenges North East Link will bring so that they can use what they learn in their decision making.

The sessions are planned to be held:

  • Sunday July 23 — 9am – 12pm Eltham Town Square
  • Monday July 24 — 5pm – 8pm Nillumbik Civic Centre Greensborough
  • Saturday July 29 — 10am – 1:30pm Diamond Creek Community Centre
  • Sunday July 30 — 10am – 12:30pm Research shops

Jane Ashton said on Facebook she is aiming to organise for a meeting in Kangaroo Ground “as this is where people who care live”.

Narelle Campbell, from the No Rural Link group who have started the social media hashtag #buildthelinkbutdontsplitthewedge are opposing the road passing through the Green Wedge.

Ms Campbell thinks the sessions are “a great opportunity for our communities to engage with NELA face to face in a reasonable, evidence based, informal and passionate way”.

More formal information, engagement and feedback sessions are planned once corridors are identified and announced in August.

The North East Link Authority are not going to have an easy time ahead of them north-east Melbourne seems to find itself in a situation where most people want the link but very few want it anywhere near them.