Victoria’s ruling Labor government announced a AUD 2.2bn (USD 1.67bn) upgrade of Melbourne’s suburban roads on Sunday (29 April).
EOIs will go out in the coming months followed by a request for tender at the end of the year, with the winning bidder to be awarded in late 2019, a spokesperson for state Premier Daniel Andrews, told Inframation.
The project will be procured as a Public Private Partnership (PPP), the Victorian Treasury confirmed.
It will include the rolling out of 550km of new road as part of the Labor government’s congestion busting exercise. These will mainly duplicate suburban arteries from two to four lanes. In addition, two new bridges will be constructed and the bridge at Duncans Road/Princes Freeway interchange in Werribee South will be rebuilt.
The upgrades would be delivered within five years and be delivered under the auspices of the state’s new dedicated Major Road Projects Authority. The authority was announced on Sunday, to deliver the state’s AUD 14.9bn pipeline of road projects
The roads PPP will feature as part of the government’s infrastructure plan in the Victorian Budget 2018/19 to be announced on Tuesday (1 May). None of the new roads will be tolled or involve land acquisitions, the state government confirmed.
In December 2017, financial close was reached for the AUD 1.8bn Western Roads Upgrade, marking the first time a PPP model was used to fund a suburban roads upgrade in Australia.
The latest AUD 2.2bn package has been hailed as “the single biggest investment in suburban roads in Victoria’s history,” by the Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Luke Donnellan.
The plan is to upgrade 13 arterial roads across Melbourne’s northern and south-eastern suburbs.
More than AUD 1 billion will be spent to widen and improve the safety of roads in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.
These include: Sunbury Road, Craigieburn Road, Epping Road, Childs Road and Bridge Inn Road in Doreen as the Northern Roads Upgrade delivers stage two of the Yan Yean Road duplication.
The South Eastern Roads Upgrade will duplicate roads including: Healesville-Koo Wee Rup Road in Pakenham; Lathams Road in Seaford from two to four lanes between Oliphant Way and Dandenong-Frankston Road, including a new bridge over Peninsula Link; Narre Warren-Cranbourne Road in Cranbourne and Pound Road West in Dandenong South with a new bridge over the Cranbourne rail line.
The upgrade “will slash travel times, improve connections between our fastest growing communities and give local roads back to local residents,” Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said.
However, it is unclear if the Liberal opposition would build the project if it wins November’s state election.
Victoria’s Liberal Party voiced criticism of the latest roads plan in a statement on Monday (30 April). “Daniel Andrews wasted AUD 1.3bn dollars of taxpayers’ money tearing up the East West Link contract, after saying it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on,” it said. “Now, seven months out from an election he’s discovered that Melbourne is in the grips of a congestion crisis and he wants Victorians to trust him to deal with it.”
The Opposition’s congestion busting plan for Melbourne and Geelong includes removing 55 congested intersections and introducing new technology for traffic lights to improve traffic flows.
A recent opinion poll conducted by Newspoll suggest Labor will hold the balance of power in the next election. Labor leads 52-48 against the Liberal-Nationals on a two-party preferred basis.