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Victoria issues ambitious AusLink 2 wishlist

<p>The Victorian Government has issued its AusLink 2 transport infrastructure wishlist to Canberra, with a package of measures valued at $11.5bn swelling its shopping basket. </p> <p>The list is ambitious, given that it would represent more than half of the Commonwealth Government’s $22.3bn budget five-year AusLink 2 program.</p> <p>However, the Victorian Government has pledged to stump up 25% of that figure.</p> <p>Top of the State’s list is a $2.2bn upgrade of the Western Ring that would involve the construction of an extra lane in each direction on the freeway, plus the installation of traffic management systems, such as ramp metering. </p> <p>The ring road carries up to 130,000 vehicles each day and plays a major role in moving freight to and from the ports of Melbourne and Geelong and connecting regional and interstate corridors.</p> <p>However, it is experiencing high levels of congestion, particularly in peak periods, and the Victorian Government believes it is time for its capacity to be significantly enhanced.</p> <p>Announcing the funding proposals, the State minister for roads and ports, Tim Pallas, said the Western Ring Road upgrade was one of 30 projects proposed in <em>National Transport Links -</em> <em>Growing Victoria’s Economy</em> , Victoria’s roads funding request.</p> <p>&#8220The Federal Government and the States have a shared responsibility for Australia’s national transport system, and we look forward to working with the Federal Government to ensure that Victoria receives our fair share as outlined in our proposal,&#8221 Mr Pallas said.</p> <p>&#8220In an unprecedented move, the Bracks Government is making a commitment now to invest 25% in this major infrastructure package (estimated to be up to $11.5 billion) if the Federal Government will give Victoria a share of road and rail funding that reflects Victoria’s economic importance.&#8221</p> <p>The minister said Victoria generated 25% of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product, was home to 25% of Australia’s population, and contributed 25% of fuel excise collected by the Federal Government &#8211 yet recently it had received only 16.5% of Commonwealth transport funding.</p> <p>The Victorian vision calls on the Federal Government to support 30 much needed projects across regional Victoria and the Melbourne area, including:</p> <p>&#8226 Melbourne &#8211 Sydney rail line upgrade</p> <p>&#8226 The Goulburn Valley Highway bypasses at Nagambie and Shepparton</p> <p>&#8226 Stage 4 of the Geelong Bypass</p> <p>&#8226 Dynon &#8211 Port &#8211 Rail Program</p> <p>&#8226 Duplication of Princes Highway East between Traralgon and Sale</p> <p>&#8226 Princes Hwy West duplication between Geelong and Colac</p> <p>&#8226 Dooen (near Horsham) intermodal terminal development</p> <p>&#8226 Duplication of the Western Hwy between Ballarat and Ararat and</p> <p>&#8226 Western Hwy re-alignment at Anthony’s Cutting.</p> <p>&#8220It is important that we reinforce the integrity of AusLink, which was initially set up to direct investment into those parts of the transport network that need it, not to pork barrel in the lead up to an election,&#8221 Mr Pallas said.</p> <p>The Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry this morning backed the Government’s proposals, saying the State’s road and rail network was set to come under increasing pressure as a result of economic, trade and population growth.</p> <p>VECCI chief executive Neil Coulson said it was important that, &#8220we are not victims of our own success and plan for our future in a co-ordinated fashion at a Federal, State and local government level&#8221.</p> <br />