THE saga comparing the East-West Link project to government’s Western Distributor project continues to draw attention with politicians each claiming their project is best for Ballarat.
Both parties have continually pitched the benefits of the Melbourne road projects to Ballarat residents, despite them being more than 100 kilomteres away from the city.
Given the political capital both major parties have invested in each project it is no surprise each believe there are direct benefits for regional residents.
Speaking to The Courier on Thursday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said crossing the often congested West Gate Freeway was a problem for everyone in the west of the state.
“Obviously people in Ballarat and in other regional centres travel to and from the city and rely on goods going to and from Melbourne,” he said.
“This project is a standout and I would hope people in Ballarat would be heartened by the things they are hearing.”
The Western Distributor involves widening the West Gate Freeway from 8 to 12 lanes, a tunnel under Yarraville, a second river crossing and an elevated road along Footscray Road connecting to CityLink.
On Thursday the Victorian government announced the project would be fully funded in the upcoming budget with no support from the federal government.
Mr Andrews said he believed the project would cut 20 minutes off a trip to Melbourne from Ballarat.
Western Victorian MP Joshua Morris said he believed the benefits for Ballarat residents of the now defunct East-West Link project far outweighed that of Labor’s Western Distributor project.
“The East-West link offered Ballarat families a genuine second option when travelling to and around Melbourne. Labor’s Western Distributor is just a $5.5 billion road that ends in T-intersection,” he said. “Infrastructure Australia still says the East-West Link needs to be built and is a high priority.”
The debate over the East-West Link become the main key issue throughout the 2014 Victorian election.
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