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Radially-directed roads on borders of congested cities a silly idea

The bypass around Frankston will be toll free and will cost taxpayers $750 million. It will go ahead as a public-private partnership even if the Commonwealth Government gives not a cent towards its funding.  To Premier John Brumby it is another instance of Kevin Rudd’s ‘nation-building’.  Quote: ‘..quite frankly, the economy and the construction industry (need it)’. The private firm operating the road will be paid a fee not from users but from the state government under an ‘availability charging’ regime.  The state and the firm share construction costs and the firm is then paid a quarterly fee if the road is kept in good condition with all lanes operating.  Macquarie Bank is interested – why wouldn’t it be?

It is difficult to imagine more foolish and irresponsible policy.

Why would you want a major radial road on the outskirts of Melbourne feeding still more traffic into the already congested Melbourne region?  The road will of course encourage people to live on the Mornington Peninsula and then to commute to Melbourne.

The contribution to congestion will be worsened by not charging road users either the congestion costs attributable to the road or any of the capital costs of building it. These costs will be borne for the most part by others.

An excellent article in The Age today by Clay Lucas (not yet online) assesses the arguments.  It would be much better spending this money on public transport on the peninsula where a stretched bus service does good business  and trains could be reinstated to Mornington.

The suggestion that this is a public private partnership operating on a commercial basis is ludicrous – the road is un-tolled. What is being provided is a long-term service contract to private firms who bear none of the risks of the project.

Finally, the global financial crisis should not become an excuse for implementing any flea-brained project. The verbiage of Kevin Rudd (and now John Brumby) should be rejected for the nonsense it is.

6 comments to Radially-directed roads on borders of congested cities a silly idea

  • conrad

    Let’s hope some good comes out of the GFC, and they can’t get funding for it, unlike their slightly faster than slow trains from a few years ago.

    Incidentally, I don’t really see how viable a train to Mornington could be either, since even the train from Frankston to the city is slow (and the line is shitty too and becomes dodgy at times due to all the Frankston junkies). I also wonder how many people you could actually get living down there to make the line viable? A better alternative would be to add new suburbs out west or north and stick a really good line in — this would surely be far closer to the city and hence viable than Mornington, and there is less pre-existing development inbetween which means less fights if you want to stick in new train lines.

    I think this all starts reminding me of Cain and Kirner revisited.

  • conrad

    Actually, if you want to see how daft they are, then try reading this:

    http://www.premier.vic.gov.au/news-events/brumby-and-madden-announce-melbourne-5-million.html

    If you read that closely, they predict that Melbourne will get 1.8 million more people, yet needs only 600,000 more dwellings. That of course doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense — they’re suggesting that the average new dwelling will have 3 people in it, depite the current average being 2.6, and they don’t even take into account that the number of people per dwelling is declining and will be expected to do so even more.

    Given that they obviously can’t even add up, it isn’t hard to see why they keep on thinking of all these weird schemes.

  • Why not force all of Latrobe Uni, and Swinburne for that matter, to relocate down to Frankston, then lots of people would travel down to Frankston in peak hour and back up in peak hour – on the otherwise empty trains or other side of the roads! Bloody great idea I say.

  • It was an interesting read.

  • John Mashey

    Do Australian planning processes for long-lived capital assets (like roads or airports) include any awareness of things like Peak Oil?

    Put another way, is there some price of oil at which such roads become stranded assets? [It’s been a decade since I was in the Mornington area, so I have no opinion on that particular route.]

    On the other hand, here in the SF Bay Area, we’re doing everything we can not to build more freeways, but to improve rail transport, other public transport, and really help bicycling.