Rounding out a couple of huge weeks for Melbourne transport proposals in the lead up November's state election, the Victorian Government has now dropped a detailed design for its monster road project, the proposed $15.8 billion North East Link.
The plans, which now have the support of both major political parties, would created a more seamless traffic light-free link between the Eastern Freeway at Bulleen Road and the M80 Ring Road where it connects with the Greensborough Bypass.
The proposal would see the existing Eastern Freeway junction at Doncaster Road widened to around 94 metres, making way for 14 regular lanes, four emergency lanes, two bus lanes and on- and off-ramps. This could see the existing Eastern Freeway beefed up to incorporate as many as 20 lanes at one point — that's enough to rival some of the widest thoroughfares in the world.
The North East Link would also feature five kilometres of six-lane tunnels, including a large section running from Lower Plenty Road in Rosanna, linking to the Eastern at Bulleen Road. This is meant to separate local and freeway traffic and cause minimal disturbance to homes and parks in the area. All up, the road's expected to be used by around 130,000 vehicles daily and give good access to Rosanna, Bulleen and surrounding suburbs.
The Andrews Labor Government has also highlighted the plans' wealth of open space and 'green bridges', and 25 kilometres of new or upgraded cycling and walking paths that will run parallel with the Eastern Freeway.
The North East Link will no doubt be welcomed by those who find themselves sitting in traffic on Rosanna, Greensborough and Lower Plenty roads on a regular basis, but some Victorians have expressed frustration that there is still no viable option to link the Eastern Freeway with CityLink and the Westgate Freeway. The Liberal Party's controversial East West Link plan was shot down in 2014, but it's apparent that Opposition Leader Matthew Guy plans to propose a new East West Link to be built at the same time as the North East Link.
But, if it is Labor that gets re-elected in November, it has promised the project would go out to tender within 100 days, with construction starting in 2020 and scheduled for completion some time in 2027.