For every two dollars that the government spends in the south east of Melbourne, they only spend one dollar in the north.
That alarming figure was found by a report looking at the future of the northern suburbs, indicating that progress has stalled and congestion has reached its peak.
Eight councils have joined together to flag down the huge problems their neighbourhoods are facing to get the help they believe they deserve from the government.
‘Northern Horizons – 50 year infrastructure strategy for Melbourne’s North’ aims to fix gaps in transport, social, utilities and environment infrastructure in the north.
Top of the list was congestion, with the report finding that northern roads have the slowest travel speeds in the morning and evening peak periods compared to other Melbourne regions and the longest travel time delays.
It’s something Moreland City Council Mayor, Lambros Tapinos, has been battling to change for quite some time. At the moment there are 170 rail crossings constraining the road network.
“We’ve been left behind,” he tells Neos Kosmos.
“Congestion is a very big problem, especially on Bell Street and in Glenroy.
“There’s also a safety problem, there are a lot of accidents at these intersections and they’re quite dangerous.
“If the train can just go under the road, it will fix up the whole suburb; everything will change.”
Level crossings continue to be a major headache to northern residents, and Cr Tapinos says not enough is being spent in the north to relieve the congestion.
“The one in Coburg is the third worst in the state,” he says.
“But the ones they’re doing are in the south east, which don’t have such a big priority in the safety perspective.
“It’s a political priority.”
Cr Tapinos says the response by the government has been too slow, with just one or two level crossings being converted a year, and mostly in the south east.
Social infrastructure was also flagged as a worsening problem, with the report indicating a “significant shortfall” in aged care facilities and not enough primary schools to cater to the rate of growth in the outer suburbs.
For all of the suggestions and projects outlined in the report, there is currently no action plan in place by the councils or the government to see it through.
Many projects are more advanced than others, with the rail crossing conversion in some areas currently in the design stages.
Funding, of course, will be the biggest issue of contention, with both the State and Federal Governments needing to contribute to get projects off the ground.