Traffic volumes have fallen or remained static on every major east-west road in Melbourne's inner north in the past decade, VicRoads data shows, clashing with government predictions that congestion is on track to rise by up to 30 per cent in the area in coming years.
The Napthine government released a comprehensive report on the impact of its east-west link project on Thursday, including its effects on traffic volumes on many arterial roads.
The report predicted that traffic would increase by up to 30 per cent by 2031 on main roads in the inner north if the $6 billion-$8 billion, 5.2-kilometre link was not built. It forecast that current traffic levels would fall by the same amount under the east-west link, as the new toll road would draw cross-town traffic off clogged local roads.
Roads that would experience reduced congestion would include Alexandra Parade and Macarthur Road, with 20 to 30 per cent less traffic, and Flemington Road and Hoddle Street, with up to 10 per cent less traffic, modelling found.
''Those of you who travel around Melbourne would know and understand what happens in school holidays, when our traffic volumes drop by about 10 per cent, and what a great difference that makes to traffic flow,'' Roads Minister Terry Mulder said.
''Can you imagine 30 per cent decreases in traffic along some of these particular roads? What a difference that would make to people who are going to work.''
Traffic has already fallen by up to 13 per cent on those roads in the past decade, VicRoads' annual average daily traffic data for 2002 to 2012 shows.
Traffic on the busiest stretch of Alexandra Parade, between Brunswick and Nicholson streets, dropped from 78,000 vehicles a day 10 years ago to 68,000 last year. Just west on Princes Street, the number fell from 62,000 to 56,000. On Macarthur Road, it sat at 26,000, and on Elliott Avenue, it dipped from 36,000 to 35,000.
Those four roads join the end of the Eastern Freeway with CityLink, the two freeways the east-west link will connect.
The link will remove the need to cross 23 sets of traffic lights on the journey, cutting the travel time to seven minutes, the government's modelling found.
Public Transport Users Association president Tony Morton said predictions of a 10 per cent increase in traffic on Alexandra Parade were ''far-fetched''.
''That would defy the existing trend, where inner-suburban arterial road traffic is in long-term decline,'' Dr Morton said.
Mr Mulder said the traffic bottleneck at the Eastern Freeway/Hoddle Street intersection would roughly halve in length, even as modelling showed traffic volumes through Yarra Bend Park on the approach to the freeway end are expected to increase by approximately 50 per cent as a result of the addition of six lanes.
Some local roads in Melbourne's west are also forecast to see more traffic with the link's opening, including Ormond Road, which the government announced this week would have a new CityLink off-ramp.
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