Next Tuesday’s state budget is probably the last chance the government has to fund Southland station as promised and have work well underway by the time the next election comes around.
Given a string of seats along the Frankston line swung on public transport issues, if it doesn’t get funding, I reckon there’ll be some nervous local Coalition MPs.
I won’t recount the recent history again, but let’s assume for a moment that the Coalition’s $13 million costing for the station was too low. And let’s assume that Labor’s $45 million was too high (as it included moving the existing bus interchange, which I still think is not a priority). What if for argument’s sake, the real cost was going to be, say, $30 million?
And how would that $30 million, which would benefit people right along the Frankston line corridor, compare to the various road projects that have been funded recently?
A quick skim of the Vicroads web site, excluding public transport projects such as grade separations and tram and bus lanes, shows the following, mostly relatively minor, projects:
- Stud Road widening — $12.7m
- Yarra Glen truck bypass — $15m
- Tullamarine Freeway safety barriers — $4.8m
- Cooper Street, Epping widening — $7.5m
- Plenty Road, South Morang widening — $21.8m
- Clyde Road, Berwick upgrade — $55.6m
- Dingley Arterial, Keysborough — $74.6m
- Dingley Arterial, Moorabbin — $155.7m
- Hallam Road, Hampton Park widening — $38m
- Narre Warren-Cranbourne Road widening — $49m
- Pound Road, Dandenong widening — $36.8m
I’ve also excluded another $170 million of various road upgrade projects announced yesterday — apparently mostly repairs to deteriorating country road surfaces, rather than road expansion.
Now, I’m not saying that specific projects on the above list should not have been funded — I don’t know enough about them — for all I know, some might be bringing genuinely needed safety improvements, for example. (The Dingley Arterial, however, in my view is just a continuation of past rampant freeway building in the misguided belief that it’ll fix traffic congestion.)
Nor am I saying that PT has received no funding since the election.
But the projects above, which have been funded and commenced with relatively little fuss, and many of which I suspect weren’t even in the Coalition’s election manifesto, add up to $471 million — or more than fifteen times the cost of Southland station.
You have to hand it to the roads guys. While the marginal seats that gave the Coalition the last election keep waiting for Southland station, road funding keeps rolling on.