Linking Princes Freeway West of Werribee to the South of Melbourne Airport
In a significant development aimed at tackling traffic congestion in Melbourne’s western suburbs, a new road project is set to connect the Princes Highway to the Metropolitan Ring Road. The Outer Metropolitan Ring Road, spanning 100 kilometres and expected to cost between $17 billion and $35 billion over nearly two decades, promises to alleviate the gridlock plaguing the region.
Infrastructure Victoria’s CEO, Dr. Jonathan Spear, emphasized the project’s potential to remove thousands of trucks and cars from overcrowded freeways in Melbourne’s western and northern corridors. The proposed road will link the Princes Highway in Melbourne’s outer west to the Metropolitan Ring Road in the city’s north, ultimately providing a traffic light-free route from Geelong to Craigieburn.
Dr. Spear pointed out that assessments of the project highlight significant freight and economic benefits while addressing the traffic chaos on key routes like the Tullamarine Freeway, Calder Freeway, Princes Highway, and Western Highway. He also mentioned that once the $18 billion North East Link opens in 2029, connecting the Eastern Freeway to the Metropolitan Ring Road in Greensborough, the Outer Metropolitan Ring Road can be constructed in stages.
The project not only aims to reduce congestion but also paves the way for enhanced economic development and accommodates the projected population growth in Melbourne’s outer-western and northern suburbs. These areas have long suffered from underdeveloped road networks compared to the city’s established regions.
Infrastructure Victoria’s documents outline the project’s three stages, beginning with the western section, which will connect the Princes Freeway west of Werribee to the south of Melbourne Airport, with an estimated cost range of $6.9 billion to $12.7 billion. The second section, priced between $5.6 billion and $13.5 billion, continues north to the Hume Freeway, including a spur to the airport. The third stage will connect the Hume Freeway to the M80 Ring Road in Bundoora, estimated to cost between $4.7 billion and $8.6 billion.
One of the key benefits of this ambitious project is the potential to remove 2,000 to 3,000 vehicles from major corridors during morning peak times, which will become increasingly critical as the population in Melbourne’s outer northern and western suburbs is expected to swell by over 800,000 residents between 2018 and 2051.
While the Outer Metropolitan Ring Road promises a brighter future for Melbourne’s traffic woes, its hefty price tag may pose a challenge. Nevertheless, Infrastructure Victoria remains optimistic about the feasibility of the project and is considering the possibility of combining it with a rail freight link to further support economic development and accommodate the region’s growing population.
The road will be constructed in stages, with work on the first section set to commence following the opening of the North East Link in 2029. Melbourne residents and commuters can anticipate a significant transformation in their daily travel as this ambitious project takes shape, ultimately offering a smoother and less congested journey across the city’s expanding west.