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North East Link is shaping up as the biggest mistake of the Andrews government’s autocratic approach to transport infrastructure.
It has many problems that will eclipse those of the West Gate Tunnel.
The taxpayer will take the risk of its failure to attract traffic, and it’s not worth the massive impacts on the local people and environment.
The West Gate Tunnel doesn’t stack up and it should never have been approved.
Its economic benefits were overstated in the business case. Rather than $1.30, the project will probably return only $0.60 per dollar invested.
It doesn’t stack up financially either. Transurban needs $2.6 billion from the public purse, plus more toll revenue from CityLink, to make it work.
Transport modelling for the West Gate Tunnel was not done to prescribed standards.
It contains illogical methodology and errors that probably resulted in significant over-estimates of future traffic on the project.
It also can’t be shown to be mathematically stable, which is a fundamental requirement of such modelling. It therefore shouldn’t have been used for the cost-benefit analysis, nor as a basis for the environment effects statement.
The same is true for East West Link and North East Link, which used the same modelling processes.
Transport modellers must take heed of these issues. Concurrent peer reviews must be compulsory.
It’s time to lift the game and do it properly.
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