Construction will resume on Melbourne’s West Gate Tunnel project on 8 March 2018 after the Liberal party and the Greens voted to cancel the development approval for the project on 7 March 2018, putting 800 jobs in limbo.
The Liberal party objects to the tunnel project because they say it places an unfair burden on CityLink users, who would partially pay for the new river crossing from increased tolls. They also argue the government has no mandate for the $6.7 billion project.
Greens MP Sam Hibbins said they would revoke planning approvals again if the government did not make significant changes.
“We’re opposed to the West Gate Tunnel. And if the government is just going to bowl up the exact same project, well, of course we’re going to oppose it.”
As a result of the decision, construction work was suspended on 7 March 2018 at both the Northern Portal Site – where work is underway ahead of Tunnel Boring Machines being launched – and on the West Gate Freeway, which will be widened to 12 lanes.
The decision was condemned across the community from the Victorian Chamber of Commerce to the Maribyrnong Truck Action Group.
Victorian industry, including the Victorian Chamber, the Victorian Transport Association, the Urban Development Institute, and G21 Geelong have also repeatedly called on the Liberals and Greens not to take this reckless step.
On 8 March 2018, the Victorian Government said it will remake the Planning Scheme Amendment for the project so that workers can get back on the job, the business community and industry have certainty and work can continue on Melbourne’s alternative to the West Gate Bridge.
Over the last two and a half years, the West Gate Tunnel project went through the most comprehensive planning approval process ever conducted for a Victorian road project.
Minister for Roads, Luke Donnellan, said, “Cancelling the planning approval now – for a major project already under construction – is unprecedented and puts thousands of jobs, an alternative to the West Gate Bridge, and truck bans in the inner west at risk.
“We will not let the Liberal-Green coalition sack these workers, roll back our truck bans and deny everyone who relies on the West Gate Bridge the congestion relief they urgently need – we’re getting on with this vital project.”
Cancelling planning approval for a major project already under construction is unprecedented in Victorian history.
The West Gate Tunnel project will cut 20 minutes travel time from the western suburbs, Geelong and Ballarat. It will also create more than 6000 jobs, including 500 opportunities for apprentices, trainees and cadets.