An independent inquiry into the West Gate Tunnel began in August 2017, giving community a chance to have their say on the project.

The West Gate Tunnel Inquiry and Advisory Committee will spend six weeks, from August to September 2017, hearing submissions from experts, engineers, councils, community groups, kindergartens, sporting clubs and local residents, looking at every aspect of the project.

The 10,000 page Environment Effects Statement (EES) released in early 2017 shows the tunnel will slash travel time, take trucks off residential streets and create 6,000 jobs.

It shows that Victoria needs an alternative to the West Gate Bridge, which already carries 200,000 vehicles every day. In less than 15 years that number will soar to 250,000.

By 2031, the impact of an overstretched bridge will be felt right along the M1 corridor, from Geelong to Pakenham. Without an alternative to the bridge, Melbourne will grind to a halt.

Traffic modelling shows that the tunnel will produce travel time savings of up to 20 minutes between Melbourne and the western suburbs, Geelong and Ballarat.

With the state’s freight task expected to treble to eight million containers a year, industry desperately needs a dedicated route to the port to get trucks off residential streets in the inner west.

Minister for Roads and Road Safety, Luke Donnellan, said that the West Gate Tunnel will slash congestion, reduce travel times and create 6,000 jobs.

“The West Gate Bridge is packed. That’s why we’re building a long awaited alternative, to take trucks off residential streets and improve traffic flow along the length of the M1, from Pakenham to Geelong,” Mr Donnellan said.

The EES also details a Victorian first Human Health Impacts Assessment that found that there will be no measurable change in the health of the community associated with the project.

Brendan Nelson, Deputy Secretary, Growth, Design and Programs, said, “We are really grateful so many of the local community came to the drop-in session to learn more about plans for their area.

“So far we have had about 370 submissions and more than 420 respondents to the online survey. We always value the community’s views and the feedback about what residents like in their area, and what could be improved in coming years.”

The hearings are open to the public and will be held at the Footscray Community Arts Centre from until 19 September 2017.

Major Construction will start in early 2018 and will be complete in 2022.

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