PARLIAMENT HOUSE, Canberra:
There are two key arterials which residents from my electorate use: the eastern and the Monash. Everybody knows our commitment to building the East West Link to take pressure off the Eastern Freeway and provide an alternative across the city, but today I would like to discuss the Monash Freeway.
As Sir Rod Eddington outlined in his report in 2008, this is the most important road in Melbourne and is the key east-west arterial, catering for volumes of between 130,000 and 200,000 vehicles per day. But this road is already very congested and is likely to get further congested in the years ahead.
Consider some of the evidence. At the moment, traffic only travels between 20 kilometres per hour and 60 kilometres per hour in the morning peak. People know the Monash as the ‘Monash Car Park’ at certain times of the morning and in the evening when traffic going to and from work literally becomes a standstill.
With a growing population, particularly in the south-east of Melbourne, this problem is only due to get worse unless we do something about it. Indeed, it is forecast that there will be a 42 per cent increase in vehicle numbers on the Monash by 2031 and an incredible 53 per cent increase in heavy vehicle numbers over that same period of time.
Residents of Melbourne will know that the Monash has only recently had a major upgrade of over $1 billion, which was done between 2007 and 2010. But after five or six years, the benefits have almost disappeared. The upgrade itself was only ever forecast to result in a modest period of respite for 10 to 15 years, but Melbourne’s population has grown far quicker than was forecast at the time, so we are nearly hitting peak capacity already.
What I think we need to do is two things. Firstly, we need to start immediately planning for a further major upgrade of the Monash Freeway—that is urgent. In the meantime, what we should be doing is improving the management of the Monash Freeway as well.
According to Booz Allen Hamilton, in its report that was commissioned for the Council of Australian Governments, traffic management systems can increase the capacity of unmanaged freeway routes by up to 25 per cent. Now the Monash is being managed all the way up from the city to Warrigal Road. It should be managed further as a matter of priority. If we did this, it would take some immediate pressure off the Monash while we are planning and finding funding for a further major upgrade.