Extra lanes will be added to Melbourne’s CityLink tollway and Tullamarine Freeway under an $850 million plan to slash travel times and cater for future growth.
The project, to get underway next year, will cut travel times between the West Gate Freeway and Melbourne Airport by 16 minutes in peak times, according to the Victorian government.
Seven hundred jobs will be created in the upgrade, to be funded by road toll operator Transurban.
Toll rises for cars, motorcycles and light vehicles will be frozen for two years while work is underway.
But truck tolls will rise to become consistent with national prices on other motorways, to help pay for it.
Premier Denis Napthine says the plan will boost capacity on the freeway by a third, cutting travel times.
“This is a genuine game-changing project for Melbourne and Victoria,” he told reporters on Monday.
The government is negotiating with the federal government for funds to complete the freeway widening from Tullamarine Freeway to Melbourne Airport, estimated at $250 million.
“We’ll make an appropriate announcement at an appropriate time,” Dr Napthine said.
The project will complement the East West Link road project and airport rail link, he said.
Transurban boss Scott Charlton says the company will do all it can to minimise traffic disruption, with work done at night and out of hours.
Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the upgrade would enhance Melbourne as a destination and improve the movement of people and freight.
The Master Builders Association said the upgrade was a win for the construction sector, driving investment and creating jobs.
Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said the project was worthy but the government offered little detail.
Labor had committed six months ago to widening part of the Tullamarine Freeway particularly on the approach to Melbourne Airport, he said.
Mr Andrews said any toll increases for transport companies would be ultimately passed onto drivers.