Protesters Vow to Block Huge Vic Road Project

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Tuesday, October 8th, 2013
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Protesters have vowed to stop drilling on a multi-billion dollar road construction project in Melbourne, calling on the government to abandon the project and instead spend the money on public transport.

Protesters have vowed to stop drilling on a multi-billion dollar road construction project in Melbourne, calling on the government to abandon the project and instead spend the money on public transport.

Ongoing demonstrations which halted preliminary drilling work on the East-West Link for several days last month became heated on Monday as protesters clashed with police, who together with construction workers thwarted further protest attempts on Tuesday by arriving at 5am.

Protest leader Anthony Main says a group of about 100 demonstrators says a coalition of anti-East West Link groups are determined to stop preliminary testing on the site and prevent contracts from being signed before the state election in November next year.

“We’re vowing to continue to stop all aspects of this drilling” Main is quoted as saying on Australian Associated Press, adding that more than 800 people had signed petitions pledging to protest the tunnel and that there were a growing number prepared to ‘put their bodies on the line’. “

We’re going to be chasing these drill rigs.”

Main says the government has no mandate to proceed with the project, and that the group sees no reason to allow it to go ahead.

Set to cost around $8 billion and be funded through a public private partnership model, the East West Link project will complete a virtually seamless transport link across Melbourne by connecting the end of the Eastern Freeway in Melbourne’s inner north-east with CityLink (Stage one) and then subsequently with the Western Ring road (Stage two).

The government says the project will also eliminate current bottlenecks around the end of the Eastern Freeway, improve livability in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, provide better access to education, employment, retail and social opportunities across the city and ease pressure on existing city connections amid expectations of significant population growth over the next 25 years.

Construction on the first stage is expected to start late next year and is expected to finish in 2019.

Three consortia were shortlisted for the project last month, with strong interest from major Australian and international construction groups.

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