The Government of Victoria, Australia, has finalised the route for the completion of the North East Link ring road.
The North East Link will begin on the Eastern Freeway at Springvale Road, where six extra dedicated lanes will be established to double the capacity of the Eastern Freeway.
The expanded section of the Eastern Freeway will remain toll-free.
The freeway will connect to a new six-lane tunnel at Bulleen, with underground connections at Banksia St and Manningham Road.
The 5km tunnel will be built under the Yarra River to protect environmentally sensitive parkland and residential areas.
A local connection will be provided at Lower Plenty Road and the North East Link will then run north alongside the Greensborough Highway, which will remain open for traffic.
The North East Link will pass beneath Grimshaw Street in Watsonia and connect to the M80 Ring Road at Greensborough, which is being widened.
The North East Link, said to be the biggest transport project in Victoria’s history, will reduce travel times between Melbourne’s north and south by up to 30 minutes, with substantial travel time savings for people travelling to Melbourne Airport from the south and east.
Congestion on roads in the north eastern suburbs is expected to be reduced, with 15,000 trucks taken off local streets a day, and over 9,000 vehicles taken off hotspots such as Rosanna Road.
The project is expected to cost up to $16.5bn and create 10,000 jobs in Victoria. Final cost estimates will be released ahead of the Budget for 2018-19.
Procurement and planning approval processes will begin in 2018, ahead of the selection of a builder in 2019, and major construction will begin in 2020.
Premier Daniel Andrews said: “People have been talking about connecting the Ring Road and the Eastern Freeway for decades, but it’s always been put in the too hard basket – not anymore.
“This is the biggest transport project in Victoria’s history – our state needs it and only Labor will get it done.”