THE State Government has hit back at Opposition criticism that it had scrapped plans to widen the freeway southbound at Hepburn Avenue and Reid Highway.
North Metropolitan MLC Tjorn Sibma criticised the Government for not including $74 million in last week’s Budget for widening the Mitchell from Hodges Drive to Hepburn Avenue and from Reid Highway to Erindale Road.
He said the projects had been planned to be completed in 2019, clearing bottlenecks at Erindale Road, Whitfords Avenue and Ocean Reef Road.
Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the previous Government had more than eight years to widen the freeway.
She said the Government had allocated $40 million for widening the freeway southbound between Cedric and Vincent streets.
“Widening the freeway from Hodges Drive to Hepburn Avenue and from Reid Highway to Erindale Road is part of an overall strategy to improve performance of the Mitchell Freeway but cannot proceed before completion of southbound widening from Cedric to Vincent,” she said.
“It is illogical to undertake improvement works on the northern sections when drivers would encounter delays and congestion as they moved closer to the CBD; hence the priority on the Cedric to Vincent Street section, which is fully funded and will be completed by late 2019.”
Ms Saffioti said there would be four lanes between Erindale Road and Vincent Street.
The projects to widen the freeway at Hodges Drive and Reid Highway would be considered “as part of future budgetary processes”.
Mr Sibma called on the Government to “reinstate” the projects “immediately”.
He said Infrastructure Australia had determined in 2016 the Mitchell Freeway would become the most congested route in Australia by 2031.
Reports had shown the Mitchell Freeway carried 190,000 vehicles a day and in addition to significant congestion and rear-end crashes, which comprise 74 per cent of all crashes, northern suburbs commuters would spend more time in their cars and less time with their families.