Vic chooses shortest North East Link option

Existing paths face widening before tunnel and road extension for crucial freight route

Vic chooses shortest North East Link option
Option A, in blue, is the chosen North East Link route


The Victorian government has chosen North East Link Authority’s (NELA’s) Option A for the proposed North East Link (NEL) ‘ring-road’ completion.

Option A uses more existing road and associated infrastructure along with an existing road reserve, according to NELA’s North East Link Technical Summary.

The NEL now is designed begin on the Eastern Freeway at Springvale Road where the capacity of the Eastern Freeway will be doubled, with six extra dedicated lanes.

An important project for freight movement supported strongly by the Victorian Transport Association (VTA), the state government is selling the NEL to north-east Melbourne residents as alleviating suburban truck traffic.

"The North East Link will take 15,000 trucks off local roads, create thousands of jobs and deliver massive travel time savings for drivers," state roads minister Luke Donnellan says.

Under the chose option, heading west, the wider freeway will connect to a new six lane tunnel at Bulleen, with local underground connections at Banksia Street and Manningham Road.

The 5km tunnel will then travel beneath the Yarra River and related areas in its path.

There will be a local connection at Lower Plenty Road, with the North East Link then running north alongside the existing Greensborough Highway, which will stay open for local traffic.

A new interchange will see the NEL pass beneath Grimshaw Street in Watsonia before connecting with the M80 at Greensborough, which is also being widened.

"Travel times between Melbourne’s north and south will be cut by up to 30 minutes in each direction, with massive travel time savings for people travelling to Melbourne Airport from the south and east," the government says.

While the business case is yet to be finalised, early cost estimates range up to $16.5 billion, which would make it the state’s single biggest-ever  transport infrastructure investment.

Detailed design will now get underway and the business case, including finalising cost estimates, will be publicly released ahead of the Victorian Budget 2018/19.

Procurement and planning approval processes will also begin next year, ahead of a preferred builder being selected in 2019, and major construction starting in 2020.

Industry reaction

VTA CEO Peter Anderson has congratulated the North East Link Authority and its CEO, Duncan Elliot, for their efforts in coming up with the "best solution".

"This is a project for the greater good of all Victorians, and it’s important that it isn’t now held up by egocentrism, self-interest or isolationist mentality.

"Land acquisition and difficult choices around land-use are an unfortunate inevitability when there is no space reserved to improve our road and rail infrastructure. However, this final route has the least social impact in terms of negative effects on the community.

"The VTA recognises the support from the heavy vehicle industry and the RACV in ensuring this important project was taken on during this term of government. 

"We look forward to seeing construction of the North-East Link commence, and many other Victorian infrastructure plans progressing in the near future."

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