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    Westgate tunnel will be good for the environment, claims Victorian government

    Branko Miletic

    Designed by Wood Marsh Architects and Tract Consultants, the West Gate Tunnel Project (formerly known as the Western Distributor) is going to be ‘good for the environment’, according to the Victorian government.

    With the imminent end of the public consultation period of the Environment Effects Statement (EES) for the West Gate Tunnel project, the authorities are claiming a range of environmental wins for the $5.5 billion project.

    Reading through the 10,000 page EES, the listed environmental effects of the project includes:

    • More than 9,000 trucks per day off will be removed off residential streets in the inner west;
    • Travel times will be cut by up to 20 minutes between Melbourne CBD and the western suburbs, Geelong and Ballarat;
    • More than 17,000 trees including 4000 mature trees will be planted, replacing trees that need to be removed at a ratio of more than 3:1;

    Most importantly, the EES predicts there will be “No measurable change in the health of the community associated with the project.”

    According to the Victorian minister for roads Luke Donnellan, “We’re going through one of the most comprehensive environmental investigations in Victoria’s history to make sure that the West Gate Tunnel is built to the highest environmental standards.”

    When it comes to community benefits, the member for Williamstown, Wade Noonan says it’s all in the numbers of vehicles taken off local road. 

    “We know how important taking trucks off local roads is to our community – that’s why we’re getting on with it, shifting more than 9,000 trucks per day from residential streets to the West Gate Tunnel.”

    In terms of environmental benefits, the member for Footscray, Marsha Thompson, also highlighted the issue of vehicles taken off local roads as well as the extra cycling facilities.

    “We’ve listened to locals every step of the way – the West Gate Tunnel will take trucks off local streets, create better cycling connections while protecting the health of our community,” she said.

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