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Mike Stevens | Aug 4, 2011

A plan to widen Melbourne's Eastern Freeway during peak times by opening emergency lanes to traffic has come under fire from insurer RACV.

Congestion on the freeway, a major feeder between the CBD and the outer eastern suburbs, has increased dramatically since the 2008 opening of the Eastlink tollway.

A recent VicRoads memo, obtained by Fairfax, reportedly outlines plans to widen the freeway by 1.8 metres, allowing vehicles to travel in emergency lanes between Bulleen and Doncaster.

RACV's Brian Negus described the plan as a "band-aid fix" and said that Melbourne needs a long-term integrated transport plan to ease congestion and improve road safety.

“This bandaid solution will not fix the problem. Both roads and public transport need to be addressed and RACV urges the State Government to develop a transport plan as a critical priority,” Mr Negus said.

Mr Negus said the government would need to commit to key projects including a link from the Eastern Freeway to the Western Ring Road, with tunnels to Citylink and under the Maribynong River.

“Rather than just widening the emergency lanes and using these for traffic, a better interim solution would be to widen the freeway to create an additional lane for ramp traffic in both directions," he added.

"This would alleviate the turning traffic that is causing much of the problem. There is room to do this alternative treatment and also retain an emergency stopping lane for safety.”

A north-east link from the Metropolitan Ring Road at Greensborough to the Eastern Freeway and Eastlink should also be considered, Mr Negus said, along with improvements to Hoddle Street, one of the freeway's main exits.

Photo: flickr user Giang.

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