Federal cash for upgrade of M80 in Melbourne

Extra lanes for Melbourne ring road, but bigger projects still face funding and planning clouds

Federal cash for upgrade of M80 in Melbourne
The M80 Western Ring Road in Melbourne will be upgraded with federal funds


The Federal Government will contribute $150 million to a "shovel-ready" upgrade project on Melbourne’s metropolitan ring road (M80), but a much-anticipated extension of the road remains in limbo.

A third lane will be added in each direction of the four kilometre stretch of M80 between Sunshine Avenue in St Albans and the turn-off to the Calder Freeway.

Electronic lane signals, variable speed limit signs, and closed-circuit television cameras will also be added, along with upgrades to the road’s central control systems.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the project will create a "fully upgraded" M80 road, stretching with three lanes in each direction from Western Highway to Sydney Road.

"This M80 Ring Road project is shovel-ready, [and] it is endorsed by Infrastructure Australia," he says in a joint statement with infrastructure minister Warren Truss, adding that it will create around 1000 jobs.

"The Commonwealth Government stands ready to fund credible, shovel-ready infrastructure proposals in Victoria so that we can create jobs and drive economic growth."

The upgrade will certainly be welcome, but most heavy vehicle industry leaders have the M80 extension to Greensborough at the top of their infrastructure wish lists. A second river crossing from Melbourne’s west is also in demand, particularly as the West Gate Bridge edges closer to capacity.

Abbott and Truss say they will consider the proposed Western Distributor project from toll road operator Transurban but note there are concerns over how it will be funded.

"As it stands, the Western Distributor proposal is likely to cost motorists in the east to build a road in the west – through the extension of current tolls on CityLink and the Monash Freeway – which we could not support without significant benefits to the entire network."

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