Infrastructure Australia has given Melbourne’s North East Link the go-ahead, approving the government’s business case for the $15.8 billion toll road. Australia’s peak infrastructure body marked the project as a high priority and recently added it to the list of nationally significant investments.
The Federal Government will contribute $1.75 billion to the road which is forecast to reduce travel times between the M80 and Eastern Freeway by as much as 30 minutes. It will also add improvements to cycling corridors and provide an additional bus route to Doncaster.
Under consideration since May, when the project is completed, it will take the pressure off heavy traffic arterial roads, including Rosanna Road, Para Road and Fitzsimons Lane, which typically see about 250,000 car movements per day.
The ambitious project also involves building two three-lane tunnels underneath the Yarra and Parklands. While, undoubtedly, contributing to the very high cost to build, the business case submitted by the Victorian Government in May disclosed the road would generate $1.30 for every dollar invested. Moreover, it will create 10,300 jobs during construction.
Infrastructure Australia acting chief executive Anna Chau said a review of the report had found the project could deliver the travel-time savings promised to motorists.
“Once delivered, the freeway will provide faster and more reliable trips to help people get to work and commercial districts."
“Currently, there are very few freeway options for travelling between Melbourne’s north and south-east, meaning drivers must pass through Melbourne’s inner city. These roads are regularly congested with commuter traffic and freight traffic from the Port of Melbourne,” she said. “Once delivered, the freeway will provide faster and more reliable trips to help people get to work and commercial districts, as well as improving quality of life for residents in these suburbs by moving traffic from arterial and local roads onto the new freeway.”
Some parts of the roadway will rival the world’s largest motorways, with more than 20 lanes anticipated at the widest point. This includes 14 carriageway lanes through Doncaster and Baldwyn North, four emergency lanes, two bus lanes and the motorway on/off ramps—leaving the road just a bit short of 100 metres wide.
A preferred builder is expected to be selected in 2019. Site specialists are already preparing the Environment Effects Statement (EES) and undertaking geotechnical testing throughout the project area. This way they’ll get information about existing ground conditions across Melbourne’s north-eastern suburbs.
Service proving works are also being undertaken throughout mid to late 2018 to locate underground services, such as water, gas, telecommunications and electrical using walkovers and Non-Destructive Excavation (NDE).