The Victorian Government today has confirmed the route for Melbourne’s North East Link, which it anticipates will be the biggest transport project in the state’s history.
North East Link will begin on the Eastern Freeway at Springvale Road where the capacity of the Eastern will be doubled with six extra dedicated lanes to eliminate some of eastern Melbourne’s worst bottlenecks.
A statement from the office of Premier Daniel Andrews said the expanded Eastern Freeway section will remain toll-free under the Andrews Labor Government.
Heading west, the freeway will connect to a new six-lane tunnel at Bulleen with local underground connections at Banksia St and Manningham Road.
The five kilometre-long tunnel will then travel deep beneath the Yarra River, protecting environmentally sensitive parkland and residential areas.
There will be a local connection at Lower Plenty Road, with the North East Link then running north alongside the existing Greensborough Highway, which will stay open for local traffic.
A new interchange will see the North East Link travel beneath Grimshaw Street in Watsonia, before seamlessly connecting to the M80 Ring Road at Greensborough, which is also being widened.
“People have been talking about connecting the Ring Road and the Eastern Freeway for decades but it’s always been put in the too hard basket – not anymore,” said Mr. Andrews in the statement.
“This is the biggest transport project in Victoria’s history – our state needs it and only Labor will get it done.”
The statement said the travel times between Melbourne’s north and south will be cut by up to 30 minutes in each direction, with massive travel time savings for people travelling to Melbourne Airport from the south and east.
It also anticipated that congestion on local roads in the north eastern suburbs will also be slashed, with up to 15,000 trucks taken off local streets a day, and more than 9,000 vehicles taken off hotspots like Rosanna Road.
The business case is yet to be finalised, but the statement said early cost estimates on the project range up to $16.5 billion – the single biggest transport infrastructure investment in the state’s history.
Detailed design will now get underway and the business case, including finalising cost estimates, will be publicly released ahead of the Victorian Budget 2018/19.
Procurement and planning approval processes will also begin in 2018, ahead of a preferred builder being selected in 2019, and major construction starting in 2020.