The East West Link project will include a $70 million facelift for Melbourne’s most used bike and walking paths.
Melbourne’s bike-friendly reputation will be enhanced by a multi-million dollar dedicated cycleway from its CBD to the Mornington Peninsula.
Victorian Premier Denis Napthine and Transport Minister Terry Mulder on Sunday revealed details of a 15km cycling and pedestrian initiative, an add-on to the first stage of East West Link which will connect the Eastern Freeway and CityLink.
The centrepiece is a $30 million three-kilometre North East Bike Link project, a sealed pathway including bridges over the Yarra and Merri Creek which will link into Chandler Hwy.
Dr Napthine said the project would skim 10 minutes off the current trip time and extend the network from the city to the Mornington Peninsula.
“It will complete that missing link to provide great linkages for cyclists on safe bike pathways, dedicated safe pathways, all the way from the inner-city to Mornington,” Dr Napthine told reporters on Sunday.
Dr Napthine said the upgrade was planned from the start of East West Link project and had evolved after consultation with the cycling community.
The $70 million package is included in the overall project funding.
Mr Mulder said the East West Link was “never ever just about a road”.
“This was all about what we could do for communities, what add-on benefits we could provide with the East West Link, how to take the community with us and how to provide additional enhancements to the project,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“This is going to make a massive difference to Melbourne.
“This is going to grow our reputation as the world’s most liveable city.”
He said the government would seek further feedback from the community and stakeholders before work began and the final design was subject to planning approvals.
“We know the project in its entirety will be completed by 2019, there is nothing to say stages of this could not be delivered earlier,” Mr Mulder said.
The government and the East West Connect consortium signed a contract for stage one of the project last week.
Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews says Labor will not build the road and will tear up the contracts if the party is elected on November 29.
Mr Andrews said the East West Link would be a financial disaster regardless of whether it included an enhanced cycling route.
“Bike path or no bike path, Tony Abbott and Denis Napthine’s toll road tunnel will be a financial disaster, just like the one in Sydney, just like the one in Brisbane,” he told reporters on Sunday.
“We need to focus on better local roads, getting rid of level crossings that people get stuck at every day and building the best possible public transport system we can.
“That’s my plan, that’s my vision and that’s the choice we’re giving Victorians on the 29th of November.”