What is the North East Link?

The North East Link is a proposed toll road in Melbourne’s north-eastern suburbs. It would start at the M80 Ring Road in Greensborough, and end either at the Eastern Freeway or EastLink.

The toll road is being pushed by the Andrews Labor Government, although similar roads have been a dream of highway planners for decades.

You wouldn’t be mistaken in thinking this project is more about making money for tollroad operators than it is about easing congestion in our communities.

The North East Link Authority (NELA) and the Andrew’s Labor Government have been trickling information, half truths and downright lies. It’s time we see an infrastructure project that is truly for the people rather than big profits.

At $15.8 billion, the North East Link will be Victoria’s most expensive road ever and won’t fix our traffic problems. With that kind of money, there are better, longer term fixes that will have a greater impact and improve the lives of residents in the North-East.

You can view the main North East Link campaign page here.

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What is the North East Link?

The North East Link is a proposed toll road in Melbourne’s north-eastern suburbs.

It would start at the M80 Ring Road in Greensborough, head due south and connect with the Eastern Freeway at the existing Bulleen Road intersection. It would have interchanges at Grimshaw Street, Lower Plenty Road and Manningham Road.

The Eastern Freeway would be widened between the Chandler Highway to the West and Springvale Road to the East.

What is the North East Link Authority?

The North East Link Authority (NELA) is a state government agency that has been established to build the North East Link. It is currently conducting information sessions on its chosen route.

The public consultation process that the North East Link Authority has used to date has been a sham:

  • NELA has not answered valid questions from affected persons and businesses, and has blocked any dissenting views on its Facebook page
  • NELA has harassed grassroots community groups by reporting to them to the police.1
  • Furthermore, the CEO of NELA used his wife’s personal Facebook account to spy on a community group opposed to the project.2

1 Rogers, Andrew, “North East Link protesters accused of using scare tactics in battle to stop Bulleen route”, Manningham Leader, 15 September 2017.
2 Jacks, Timna, “Resident action group claims North East Link boss’s wife is a ‘spy’”, The Age, 26 April 2018.

How much would the North East Link cost to build?

If built, it would cost $15.8 billion dollars and would be the most expensive road (per kilometre in today’s dollars) in the history of the world. This will divert money from the public purse and private sector that would be better spent on public transport and other services such as schools and hospitals

Would the North East Link have to be tolled?

Yes, without a doubt. Daniel Andrews has said the road would need to be tolled, but would also require funding from the State and Federal Governments.

In the 2018-19 State Budget the Victorian Government admitted that the Government would have to pay a private provider a guaranteed amount to ensure that the toll road would be viable. This is called an “availability Public-Private Partnership”. This means the State Government is taking the risk of the project, while the private toll road operator makes all the profits.3

3 State Budget 2018-19, State Capital Program, Budget Paper 4, Chapter 1, p. 12.

When would the North East Link be built?

If it proceeds, construction would start in 2019 and take 8 or 9 years. The Andrews Government has committed to not sign construction contracts until after the General Election in November 2018.

Would the North East Link reduce congestion on the Eastern Freeway?

No. The North East Link would make congestion on the Eastern Freeway worse than it already is, by dumping an extra 150,000 vehicles per day on the Eastern Freeway. This traffic would be confined to local access lanes of the Eastern Freeway. Traffic from EastLink would have the option of taking express lanes at the centre of the expanded Eastern Freeway, but no Manningham, Whitehorse or Boroondara residents would benefit from these lanes.

The North East Link would increase congestion on the Eastern Freeway by encouraging more people to drive to where they need to go, instead of taking public transport. The Government’s own transport modelling shows that it expects this mode shift to be so strong that 25,000 people a day will shift from trains to cars 4. We should be encouraging people to take the train, not enticing them away from it.

The North East Link will push more traffic to the same bottlenecks that exist today: Hoddle Street and Alexandra Parade at the city end and the Mullum Mullum tunnels in the East. Both of these bottlenecks will be exacerbated by the North East Link.

4 Lucas, Clay, “North East Link to shift 25,000 rail passengers a day to cars, says Andrews government report”, The Age, 17 December 2016, accessed online:

Would the North East Link reduce congestion on EastLink?

No. The North East Link would increase traffic on EastLink by encouraging more people to drive to where they need to go instead of taking public transport. It will dump tens of thousands more cars per day on the EastLink.

Yet the owners of EastLink won’t care: more cars and trucks means more drivers paying more tolls, which means bigger profits.

Would the North East Link reduce travel times?

No. Within 5 years, travel times would deteriorate and return to what they are today, and then get even worse. That’s not much of a benefit for $15.8 billion and 8-9 years of inconvenience and delays caused by construction.

Extensive research in cities around the world has shown that building more roads or widening existing roads invariably induces more traffic, such that travel times return to what they were before the road was built. There is a name of this phenomenon, and it is very well documented. It’s called “The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion”:

The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion:
Increased provision of interstate highways and major urban roads is unlikely to relieve congestion of these roads.5

5 Duranton, G., Turner, M. A., “The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion”, American Economic Review, Issue 101, October 2011, pp. 2616–2652.

Would the North East Link reduce the number of trucks on local roads?

No. The North East Link would just push the truck problem from one neighbourhood to another. Some local roads will experience an increase in trucks. This is for three reasons:

  • Rat-running. Trucks will dodge tolls, particularly if they doing low-value trips such as when they are empty. Instead they will use local roads to get to their destination.
  • Local trips. The toll road won’t provide direct access to shopping centres and industries in the northeast, such that trucks will still need to take arterial and local roads to get to their destination.
  • Dangerous goods and oversized loads. Trucks bearing dangerous goods and oversized loads are banned from entering tunnels for safety reasons. They will still have to use the same local roads they do today.

Will the Andrews Labor Government compulsorily acquire my home to build the North East Link?

North East Link Authority has started contacting residents and business owners that are in the path of the toll road. Please ask the North East Link Authority for details as to whether your house or premises will be acquired, and whether you are eligible for compensation.

If built, will the North East Link carve up local parklands, greenspace or school grounds?

Yes. Trinity College, Marcelin College, the Veneto Club and the Freeway Golf Course will lose land to North East Link. The Boroondara Tennis Club, recently awarded Best Club in Australia, will be demolished.

The Toll Road will also take up nearly all the linear parkland next to the Eastern Freeway between the Chandler Highway and Springvale Road. These parks were initially given to the local community as compensation for building the Eastern Freeway in the first place, so this is a massive loss of trust.

Will the North East Link create a physical barrier in my community?

Yes. The North East Link will bisect the City of Banyule, the suburb of Bulleen and exacerbate the disconnection between suburbs on either side of the Eastern Freeway.

The road will effectively create a wall which will cut-off access from one side of the road to other, making it near impossible and very difficult for people to get to the other side by walking, cycling or driving a car. It will also limit options for bus routes and public transport connectivity.

Will the North East Link have to go through environmental approvals?

Yes. A local community campaign, supported by the Greens, succeeded in forcing the Andrews Government into making a formal application under the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. Of particular concern is the impact of the road on the Yarra River and its tributaries, and the loss of remnant vegetation in Simpson Barracks in Yallambie.

What is the difference between the East West Link and the North East Link?

The East West Link is a proposed toll road between the end of the Eastern Freeway in Clifton Hill and the Western Ring Road at Sunshine West.

The first stage, proposed by the Napthine Liberal Government, was going to extend from the Eastern Freeway to CityLink in Royal Park. It would have cost $6 billion and taken 6 years to construct.

The Government’s own modelling showed that East West Link would return a meagre 40 cents in benefits for every $1 spent, and worsen traffic conditions on Hoddle Street and other arterials.

A grassroots opposition campaign that was supported by local councils and the Greens pressured the Labor opposition to oppose the road. The campaign succeeded, and the road was scrapped.

The campaign against East West Link called for “Trains Not Toll Roads”. While the Andrews Government cancelled the East West Link, it has not increased capacity on train lines or started building the new line to Doncaster. Instead it has committed to building a new toll road – the North East Link.

Sign up to Support the Campaign

As the member for Eastern Metropolitan, Samantha Dunn MP has used every opportunity to speak up for the community. Samantha Dunn MP will work tirelessly in with the community to:
  • Develop a comprehensive alternative infrastructure plan to protect Melbourne’s liveability.
  • Force the Government to be fully open and transparent with information about the proposed toll road, including acquisitions, the business case and local traffic impacts.
  • Work with the community and experts to ensure their voices are heard in the Environmental Effects Statement process.
  • Pressure local MPs and Councillors to oppose the project.