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The $1.39 billion upgrade of Melbourne’s M1 is focused on major works on the West Gate Freeway section.

The works involve building an extra lane in each direction on the Monash Freeway and Southern Link, and reconstructing the Bolte and Montague Street ramps to reduce weaving and merging by motorists on the West Gate Freeway.

The Montague Street city-bound on-ramp is closed for about 18 months while construction of the additional freeway lanes to Kings Way is under way.

The upgrade will also provide an additional exit ramp from the Bolte Bridge to take traffic to the Burnley Tunnel and new inbound lanes spanning Montague Street to take traffic directly to Kings Way.

“These new lanes and ramps will eliminate traffic weaving between the Bolte Bridge and Montague Street, as motorists will be able to choose their desired lane clear of merging traffic,” Victoria’s Minister for Roads and Ports, Tim Pallas, says.

“By removing the ‘knot’ in the freeway, we are creating a better flowing corridor for the 160,000 motorists who use it every day.”

Mr Pallas says the project design for the upgrade provides a better functioning and safer freeway, and the cost benefit ratio is significant with a $14 return on every dollar invested. The minister says the cost of the project has increased due to:

• construction work being done at night to reduce disruption to motorists;
• an improved drainage system to cope with larger storm events;
• the provision of additional ramp storage to meet new requirements for ramp signalling and metering;
• significant relocation of underground or overhead utilities and services, including gas and electricity;
• better environmental management to meet new standards;
• a 7% nation-wide increase in the cost of labor and materials; and
• management of interface with other construction projects including the Melbourne Convention Centre to ensure both projects meet timing commitments.

Mr Pallas says existing construction arrangements allow for completed sections of the freeway to be opened progressively. The section between Jacksons and Warrigal Roads is due to open in April 2009 and the completed Monash Freeway and CityLink sections are due to open by the end of 2009.

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