Melbourne’s contentious East West Link road project is expected to be fast-tracked with $1 billion in the federal budget.
However, the Abbott and Victorian governments are keeping quiet about any agreement.
The Abbott government will reportedly follow its $1.5 billion commitment to stage one of East West Link with an allocation of more than $1 billion in the May budget, to allow for an earlier start to the project’s second stage.
Victorian Premier Dennis Napthine would not confirm or deny a new funding deal had been struck.
“We don’t speculate on what’s going to be in the state budget or the federal budget,” Dr Napthine told reporters on Monday.
An Abbott government spokesperson also offered no comment on speculation relating to the budget.
Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt was more forthcoming, describing the anticipated funding as a sign the “so-called budget emergency is dissolving before our eyes”.
“At the same time as Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey say they can’t find enough money for pensioners and that taxpayers are potentially going to be slugged more, they have found a billion dollars to add to … a polluting toll road here in Melbourne that people just don’t want,” Mr Bandt told reporters.
“We’ve got a government that has got tunnel vision and thinks the only way to fix the problems on our roads is by building more expensive toll roads – all that is going to mean is more time stuck in traffic instead of being able to hop on a tram or train to get to work more quickly.”
Stage one of East West Link – a tunnel connecting the Eastern Freeway in Collingwood to the Tullamarine Freeway in Flemington – is due for completion in 2019. Early works have drawn some community protest.
Stage two will connect the Tullamarine Freeway to the Western Ring Road, in Melbourne’s west, and commencement will be brought forward “several years” according to media reports on Monday.