Transurban said yesterday the Victorian Government has approved to progress the Western Distributor proposal in Melbourne through to exclusive negotiations between the parties.
The negotiations would be part of Stage 4 of Victoria's Market-led Proposals Guideline.
Transurban CEO, Scott Charlton, said this significant milestone provides a clear path to continue engaging with the local community and industry through the critical steps of planning, procurement and delivery. He said:
"The Western Distributor will shape the future of our city with benefits felt locally and regionally, creating jobs, boosting productivity and enhancing the long-term resilience of Melbourne's transport network."
The project includes the following works:
- Webb Dock Access improvements: an early works package of the Western Distributor project at a cost of approximately $60 million, improvements will be delivered as part of the existing CityLink Tulla Widening project.
- Western Distributor: a tunnel and elevated motorway connecting the West Gate Freeway with the Port of Melbourne, CityLink and the CBD.
- West Gate Freeway widening: two additional lanes in each direction between the M80 Ring Road and the West Gate Bridge.
- Monash Upgrade: in partnership with VicRoads, improvements to safety and travel time reliability along 44 kilometres of road, including an additional lane in each direction for 17 kilometres.
The Victorian Government has released its business case and assessment design. This business case has provided the benchmark for government agencies and independent experts to determine that the project put forward by Transurban represents a unique value proposition for Victoria.
Under the proposed timelines, Transurban anticipates:
- reaching an in-principal agreement with the Victorian Government by mid 2016; and
- financial close for the project occurring by late 2017.
The Western Distributor project is currently expected to cost around $5.5 billion (nominal dollars), with exact construction costs to be determined through a competitive tender process and confirmation of the final project scope.
Transurban's proposed funding structure for the Western Distributor project remains in line with its April 2015 announcement and currently includes:
- tolls for motorists using the new tunnel;
- tolls for heavy vehicles using the upgraded West Gate Freeway/Western Distributor corridor;
- tolls integrating into the existing CityLink tolling structure;
- extension of the current CityLink Concession Deed by approximately 10 to 12 years; and
- government contributions, expected to cover approximately one third of the total project costs