We have been active participants in the development planning for Calder
Freeway improvements since 2007, a period of 15 years. We have enjoyed the
construction of the Kings Road Overpass in 2012 and several minor safety
improvements regarding speed limits, access changes and the planning for the
Palmers Road Corridor project which includes the highest priority
improvements now needed – the Calder Park Drive Overpass (CPDO) project
including the rail crossing grade separation. However, this time has passed
without any clear indication of when further work will be funded, despite
significant population growth in the areas that the Calder services and
continuing accident rates. We wish to highlight the issues currently at stake.
Amendments to the Brimbank and Melton planning schemes were
promulgated in June 2017 – nearly five years ago. These provided land
reservations, acquisition overlays and approvals for project work on the
Palmers Road project. Documentation associated with our attendance at the
Planning Hearings is detailed, voluminous, expensive and generally supportive
of the project. We would like assurance that these approvals and design
details are still current.
The State 2021-2022 Budget provided $20 M for planning this year from an
overall $100M of State and Federal money. The construction of even the
CPDO project remains unfunded although we hope that forthcoming Federal
and State budgets could include this substantial provision. The recent separate
approval of the rail crossing removal project could be helpful. We understand
the Business cases required to achieve this funding are currently being
prepared but, in light of press insights on State funding debt, we would like to
be given some confidence on this matter.
Given predictions that our section of the Calder will in 2031 be the second
most congested morning peak road in Australia, we expect the submission of
Budget consideration to include the serious economic and social penalties with
this congestion prediction. Can we seek assurance that this is happening?
We understand that costs associated with road accidents are an important
contributor to a business case. However, with the rate of population growth,
we are concerned that the data currently available may not adequately reflect
a future situation. Several features are particularly threatening, including the
need for traffic exiting CPD for inbound to Melbourne to access a U-turn across
lanes of traffic, vehicles backed up on to the Freeway at peak rail times and the
speed limits which cause driver anxiety. Public access to safety and traffic
volumes data could assist in building confidence in the process and we seek
more transparency on this information.
We appreciated the considerable effort by Brimbank council in 2021 in their Fix
the Calder promotion. Given that there has been some State Government
response, we hope next year's budget could be fruitful.
Concluding, we have seen the Calder Improvements needed, as foreseen by
VicRoads even in 2002, as projects lacking any positive financial State
Government support. We consider this as short-sighted and having serious
safety and economic consequences. We hope time will give some better
prospect for the Calder.