I raise a matter for the attention of the Minister for Transport Infrastructure in relation to the impact that road closures and restrictions associated with projects like the West Gate Tunnel are having on businesses in the affected areas.
I have received a letter from the managing director of an engineering supplies company based in Sunshine talking about the impact of road closures in late January in the Sunshine West area, and the impact those closures had on his business.
He states:Since 20 January 2020 the road congestion has had a significant impact on our business as a result of the closures on the Western Ring Road and Westgate Freeway for Westgate Tunnel works.The impact is multifactorial with staff not being able to get to work in a timely manner, we have staff travelling from Point Cook whose travel would usually be 25 minutes now taking 1.5 hours, it takes 30 minutes to exit from the street at the end of the day. Customers using competitors because they cannot get to our shop to purchase what they need, our usual daily turnover has decreased from $5000–$6000 per day to $100 to $200 per day this week, prompting my letter to you.
This is typical of the challenges which are experienced by businesses in the vicinity of major roadworks, and it is not something that is limited to the western suburbs around the West Gate Tunnel. It is also something which has been experienced by businesses in other areas such as works that have been taking place on the Monash Freeway.
I think Victorian businesses and citizens recognise that where there are major infrastructure works there will be interruptions on certain roads and closures of certain roads. Where it becomes untenable for businesses and commuters is where a road closure occurs because of project works but then the parallel and surrounding roads are also closed because of project works; where there is apparently no coordination between the project managers, VicRoads and in some cases local councils; where we see a whole host of roads in one area, the alternative routes to the major road, also closed which causes enormous frustration to commuters and, as this letter shows, substantial damage to business.
The action I seek from the Minister for Transport Infrastructure is to, firstly, ensure that where road closures and restrictions are proposed that they are announced well in advance in the affected area, that substantial notice is provided for businesses so they can make alternative arrangements, but also ensure that where major arterials need to be closed or restricted that the parallel and alternative roads to those arterials are not also closed, as has been all too common a practice in recent years.