1 January 2018

The North East Link: chapters 6 to 10

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Summary of document

North East Link will complete the missing link in Melbourne’s orbital freeway network and establish a continuous freeway-standard orbital road around Melbourne, between Altona in the west and Frankston in the south. This section of the business case provides details of the proposed design of the new link and its anticipated transport outcomes, benefits and impacts. It also presents the results of the financial and economic analyses of the project conducted for the business case.

The proposed new link (described in Chapter 6) will begin on the Eastern Freeway at Springvale Road before connecting via a new roadway to the M80 Ring Road at Greensborough. The main roadway will extend approximately 11km from the eastern end of the M80 to the Eastern Freeway at Bulleen. The northern section of the new link will run at surface before descending into a cutting near Watsonia Road and into tunnels at Lower Plenty Road, and then transitioning to a viaduct structure just north of Koonung Creek to connect to the Eastern Freeway. Connections will be provided between the freeway and Greensborough Bypass, Grimshaw Street, Lower Plenty Road and Manningham Road.

The project includes modernisation of the Eastern Freeway between Chandler Highway and Springvale Road to integrate effectively with North East Link, keep pace with increasing traffic volumes and changing travel demands, and provide greater capacity to accommodate cross-city orbital movements between North East Link and EastLink. The modernisation includes a reconfiguration of the freeway, new Doncaster Busway infrastructure and installation of the latest Managed Motorway technology.

The project also includes upgrades to Bulleen Road, new walking and cycling infrastructure and a series of land bridges to preserve local access and improve urban amenity in the area.

North East Link will be tolled to optimise asset use and traffic flows across the city’s road network and to assist in funding the project through a user pays mechanism.

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When completed, North East Link will connect Melbourne’s other existing freeways, allowing for freeway-standard orbital movements around Melbourne, starting from Altona and ending in Frankston, via the M80, the North East Link, the modernised Eastern Freeway and EastLink. For the first time, Melbourne will have a fully connected orbital freeway network that provides continuous traffic flow conditions and efficient long distance travel across and through Melbourne, with strategic connections to the arterial road network.

Complementary projects have been identified to capitalise on opportunities created by North East Link. These projects include arterial road upgrades, additional walking and cycling initiatives and public transport improvements. The complementary projects included in the Concept Design have been fully considered in the project risks, costs, benefits, impacts and economic appraisal. Other complementary projects not included in the project scope are recommended for separate funding requests.

Once operational, North East Link is expected to deliver positive transport outcomes across the network as far as Gippsland in the south east and interstate to the north via the Hume Freeway. These outcomes are described in Chapter 7 and include:

  • significant reductions in travel times, including up to 30 minutes in reduced travel time between the Eastern Freeway and the M80, and a 40% reduction in travel time along the Eastern Freeway
  • significant traffic reductions across arterial roads in the north east
  • 15,000 fewer trucks on arterial roads in the north east
  • faster and more reliable travel times for cross-city and orbital freight movements
  • congestion relief at the 5 north-south bridge crossings of the Yarra River
  • traffic relief along the M1 corridor, allowing it to operate more efficiently with reduced traffic volumes
  • up to 30% reduction in travel time for buses along the Eastern Freeway.

Chapter 8 reports the results of preliminary assessments of the project’s economic, social, environmental and business benefits and impacts. These assessments have identified that North East Link will deliver significant and tangible benefits to businesses and households in the north eastern suburbs of Melbourne, as well as the northern growth corridor and the south east of Melbourne. The project will also provide efficiencies to the freight sector and drive increased productivity for businesses across the broader Melbourne and Victorian economies.

Overview of North East Link benefits

Productive businesses

  • $250 million in economic value each year from better business connectivity
  • businesses in the north east will have access to 62,000 more workers
  • $590 million increase in productivity from business clustering
  • will attract 5500 more jobs to businesses in the north east.

Competitive supply chains

  • $427 million of economic value each year from better freight connectivity
  • 2% increase in connectivity between manufacturers and supplier
  • more line haul freight carried on HPFVs between the north and south east
  • $148 million reduction in vehicle operating costs each year for freight vehicles.

Economic growth

  • $12.5 billion increase in Gross State Product (GSP) for Victoria
  • will support 10,300 additional (net) jobs during construction
  • will support 3400 additional (net) jobs in Victoria each year during the operating period
  • $7.5 billion increase in Gross Regional Product (GRP) for the north east.

Prosperous households

  • $342 million in economic value each year from better household connectivity
  • workers in the north east will have access to 56,000 more job opportunities
  • provide improved access to education for residents in the north east
  • will attract 9700 more people to live in the north east.

Liveable neighbourhoods

  • $41 million in economic value each year from improved safety and amenity
  • 100 fewer crashes each year on local roads in the north east
  • $52 million in reduced pollution benefits for local areas each year
  • healthier communities from more walking and cycling opportunities.

An urban project of the scale of North East Link cannot be delivered without some undesirable impacts. During construction, potential impacts include traffic disruptions, dust emissions associated with spoil removal and other construction activities, elevated noise and vibration levels, landscape and visual impacts, and disturbance of waterways in the project area. These impacts will be temporary and will be mitigated and managed by adopting well-tested construction methods, adhering to relevant standards and guidelines, and monitoring impacts.

Detailed plans will be developed and implemented to manage potential amenity and traffic impacts during construction. A Community and Stakeholder Engagement Management Plan will be developed in consultation with local councils to engage and consult with the community and stakeholders.

A number of residential properties will need to be acquired for construction works, mainly north of Lower Plenty Road. A number of businesses will also need to be fully or partially acquired, largely south of Manningham Road. During development of the Reference Design for the project, permanent acquisition or temporary occupation of residential land, commercial properties and open space will be minimised as much as practicable. Compensation for parties with an interest in land required for the project will be provided in accordance with the Land Acquisition and Compensation Act 1986, and early and ongoing assistance will be given to residents and businesses affected by acquisition.

During operation, traffic noise impacts may increase due to new or upgraded road infrastructure, as well as along roads with higher traffic volumes. Noise modelling will be undertaken to establish noise mitigation requirements and acoustic controls. New and upgraded noise barriers will be provided where needed to mitigate increased traffic noise and achieve required noise levels.

These and other potential longer term impacts will be investigated further as part of the planning and environmental approvals process, which will include the identification of appropriate measures to avoid, minimise or manage adverse impacts. A set of Environmental Performance Requirements (EPRs) will be developed for the project to define the minimum environmental outcomes that must be achieved for design, construction and operation. The EPRs are likely to include requirements to comply with specific regulations, policies and guidelines, achieve (or exceed) recognised thresholds and levels, and adopt industry best-practice or well-tested construction approaches and methods.

Chapter 9 presents the findings of the financial analysis performed for the North East Link Project for the business case.

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The economic analysis performed for the business case (presented in Chapter 10) indicates that North East Link will deliver significant economic value for Victoria and the national economy, with total benefits around $3.1 billion greater than the capital and operating costs of the project.

The benefit cost ratio of the project is estimated to be 1.3, which means that for every dollar spent on the project, the Victorian economy will receive $1.30 of value in return. This is equivalent to an internal rate of return of 8.3%, demonstrating the positive economic value-for-money potentially delivered by the project. If land use and wider economic benefits (WEBs) are included, the estimated BCR improves to 1.4.

Defining the project scope

The assessments, analyses and appraisals required for this business case are based upon agreed design solutions, assumptions and scenarios.

Concept Design

A proposed design for North East Link that provides the basis for assessing the potential transport outcomes, benefits, impacts and economic value for money of the project. The Concept Design identifies the minimum infrastructure required to meet anticipated demand, based on a comprehensive options assessment process, engineering studies and technical investigations. The Concept Design is described in Chapter 6.

Reference Project

A broader definition of the North East Link Project developed for the purposes of estimating the costs, economic value and budgetary implications of the project. The Reference Project comprises three cost categories: State project development and management costs, design and construction (D&C) costs (based on the Concept Design) and operation and maintenance (O&M) costs. It also makes assumptions about tolling functions and responsibilities. The Reference Project is described in Chapter 9 and Appendix M.

Reference Case

A set of core assumptions about the future state of the transport network in Victoria, developed and updated by Transport for Victoria. These assumptions are designed to achieve consistency across strategic transport and traffic modelling undertaken for projects and initiatives in Victoria. Reference Case v1.09 (2017) assumptions used in the modelling conducted for the business case are described in Appendix R.

Reference Packaging Solution

A proposed packaging solution for the project that provides the basis for identifying and modelling procurement options and testing these options with the market. The Reference Packaging Solution assumes delivery of North East Link in the form of the Concept Design and adopting the tolling functions and responsibilities defined in the Reference Project. The Reference Packaging Solution is described in Chapter 11 and Appendix S.

Reference Design

A more detailed design for North East Link that refines the Concept Design and provides the basis for a comprehensive assessment of the project’s impacts. Should the project proceed past the business case stage, the Victorian Government will undertake more exhaustive consideration of all elements to refine the project scope and develop the Reference Design. This process is likely to result in changes to the Concept Design to improve aspects of the project, enhance its constructability and further reduce adverse impacts. The Reference Design is used as the ‘starting point’ for the statutory planning and environmental approvals process, and is assessed formally as part the Environment Effects Statement (EES) prepared for the project.