A new Melbourne freeway is the “next cab off the rank” for Victoria’s big-builds program, but drivers will not be slugged with a road-user tax.
Infrastructure Victoria says a new road connecting freeways in the east and north is the “missing link” for the metropolitan area.
The government agrees, saying its business case is the most viable.
“Its urgency is the most viable to actually make a huge difference to the transit across the metropolitan area, to add to productivity, to ease congestion,” Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings told reporters on Wednesday.
“It has all the hallmarks of the next cab off the rank of major transport projects that need to be considered in Victoria.”
But he ruled out road-user pricing, which is another one of Infrastructure Victoria’s three main priorities from its 30-year strategy.
“The Andrews government, when it was elected, said it would not introduce fees and charges to existing road networks; that continues to be our policy commitment,” Mr Jennings said.
Infrastructure Victoria chief executive Michel Masson said despite MPs ruling out congestion charges, no one had provided any evidence to challenge the need for it.
“We haven’t received anything that undermines the strength of the transport network pricing as a strong recommendation,” Mr Masson told reporters.
The report also calls for bigger investment in social housing, a Melbourne Airport rail link, closing coal power stations, increased housing density in established suburbs and better internet and mobile phone reception throughout the state.
A second desalination plan was also recommended to be considered in the strategy along with expanding the Wonthaggi plant.
Victorians spend $1.8 million every day on the Wonthaggi plant, no matter whether it is producing water or not.
The state has ordered water from the plant for the first time, but thanks to recent heavy rains has also agreed to sell 20 billion litres of water into the northern water market.
Mr Jennings said the government would respond in 2017 with a five-year infrastructure plan outlining priorities.