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Updated Wednesday, 20 May, 2015 by www.theage.com.au
Victoria would get to keep $1.5 billion of infrastructure cash being demanded back by the Abbott government under a deal brokered by state Opposition Leader Matthew Guy.
Instead of using the money to help pay for the defunct East West Link, the federal funds would be redirected into a new toll road proposed by CityLink operator Transurban under the Maribyrnong River to act as an alternative to the West Gate Bridge.
But in a potential deal breaker, the Commonwealth contribution would be contingent on a dollar-for-dollar $1.5 billion contribution from Victoria, producing $3 billion state-federal funding for the $5.5 billion project.
That would negate the need for a 15- to 20-year extension to the CityLink tolling period demanded by Transurban to offset the cost of building the new road.
Mr Guy, eager to demonstrate he has a positive agenda for Victoria, met with federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann in a Spring Street cafe on Monday to spruik his plan after discussing the deal with assistant Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs last week. Victorian Nationals leader Peter Walsh is also understood to have met with his federal counterpart, Transport Minister Warren Truss, on Thursday.
Premier Daniel Andrews last month revealed he was seriously considering an unsolicited Transurban proposal to build a 12-kilometre toll road linking the West Gate Freeway to CityLink via an elevated road and tunnel.
Under that arrangement, the project would be one-third funded by the Commonwealth, with the rest made through toll revenue and through a direct contribution by Transurban. In return, Transurban get a lucrative 15- to 20-year extension to the existing Citylink tolling period, which is due to end in 2035. There would be no contribution from Victoria, with Transurban saying work could start as early as this year.
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