|Length||22 km (14 mi)|
|Maintained by||Transurban Limited|
|History||Completed August 1999|
|State Route 43 (Western Link)|
|North end||Tullamarine Freeway|
|West Gate Freeway
|East end||Monash Freeway|
|Highways in Australia
National Highway • Freeways in Australia
Highways in Victoria
CityLink is a network of tolled urban Freeways in Melbourne, Australia. The company Transurban was awarded the contract to augment two existing freeways and construct two new Toll roads—labelled the Western and Southern Links—directly linking a number of existing freeways to provide a continuous, high-capacity road route to, and around, the central business district.
The first mention of a Southern and Western inner city bypass was in the 1969 Melbourne Transportation Plan. The plan advocated for reservations and set aside sinking funds for the new inner city freeway system. It was one of the few freeways connecting to the inner city (along with the Eastern Freeway to Clifton Hill) which was not later canned.
The proposal to build CityLink was first announced in May 1992 and received the State Government's formal approval in mid-1994. The contract was awarded to Transurban, a partnership between Australia's Transfield Services and Japan's Obayashi Corporation in 1995. The total value of the project was estimated in 1996 at about $1.8 billion, and the 34-year concession to operate the road expires in 2035.
CityLink was built between 1996 and 2000 and was eight times larger than any other road project in Melbourne of that time. Toll plazas for manual tolling were deemed impractical, and delays associated with plaza operations would have decreased the advantages of using the new road. The decision to use only electronic toll collection was made in 1992; at a time when there was little practical experience of such systems. The first of the sections opened to traffic in August 1999, with tolling commencing on 3 January 2000 before final completion occurred on 28 December 2000 with tolling commencing the same year.
The Exhibition Street Extension was not part of the initial project, as the project had been promoted as a bypass that would keep cars out of the CBD. Under a contract announced in April 1998, Transurban would operate the road and collect tolls from road users, with the road being opened in October 1999.
Previously, the city centre was served by four separate freeways:
- The Monash Freeway (also previously known as the South Eastern Freeway, South Eastern Arterial, and Mulgrave Freeway in different sections of the existing route) which had begun approximately 2 km south-east of the city, and connects Melbourne to the outlying rural Gippsland area;
- The Tullamarine Freeway which had begun approximately 5 km north-west of the city, and links Melbourne to Tullamarine Airport, and also joins the Calder Freeway, which links Melbourne to Bendigo;
- The West Gate Freeway (also previously known as the Lower Yarra Freeway) which had begun near Port Melbourne, just southwest of the city, crossing the Yarra River using the West Gate Bridge and joins to both the Princes Freeway (linking to Geelong) and the Western Ring Road;
- The Eastern Freeway which begins near Collingwood, passing through Melbourne's eastern and north-eastern suburbs.
CityLink saw the widening and upgrading of the inner sections of the Tullamarine and Monash Freeways, as well tolls being imposed, which attracted criticism from road users.
The elevated Western Link extends the existing Tullamarine Freeway, lengthening it to terminate it five kilometres further south at the West Gate Freeway in Port Melbourne. It includes a new major bridge (the Bolte Bridge, named after former Premier Sir Henry Bolte) over the Yarra River in the Docklands; a long elevated section over Dudley Flats and Moonee Ponds Creek and a tube-like sound barrier in Flemington where the road passes close to a number of community housing towers. A short distance to the north of the sound tube, a massive sculptural work was placed, called the Melbourne International Gateway, consisting of a giant yellow beam hanging diagonally across the road (nicknamed the "Cheesestick") and a row of smaller red beams alongside the road (the "Zipper", or "rack of lamb"). The Tullamarine Freeway was also widended from Bell Street to Flemington Road, with a transit lane being added in each direction.
This section of Freeway was originally designated in the 1969 Melbourne Transportation Plan as part of the F14 Freeway Corridor.
The underground Southern Link directly connects the ends of the West Gate and Monash Freeways into one continuous through-way. This link comprises the Burnley and Domain Tunnels which pass under the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Yarra River, each tunnel channelling traffic in different directions. This link also includes a connection to the CBD from the Monash Freeway over a bridge extension of Exhibition Street over the nearby railway lines.
This section of Freeway was shown in the 1969 Melbourne Transportation Plan as part of the F9 Freeway corridor as a surface-level road.
There are no toll booths along the entire length of the system, so traffic flow is not impeded.
CityLink uses a DSRC toll system called e-TAG, where an electronic transponder is mounted on the inside of the vehicles' windscreen. Gantries constructed over each carriageway record registration plates and detect the e-TAGs, and deduct toll amounts automatically from the account linked electronically to each tag. Where a tag is not detected, the vehicle's registration is recorded using an automatic number plate recognition system and checked against a database. For infrequent use of the system one can buy a Daypass – by phone, online, at any Australia Post outlet or at participating service stations. A Daypass can be bought in advance or afterwards (until midnight three days later). The vehicle's registered owner will be sent a late toll invoice in the mail if payment is not made, and if the late toll invoice is then not paid a fine will be issued by civic compliance victoria.
The system came under fire in 2003 when it was found that e-TAGs did not warn drivers when their batteries were running low, and non-functioning batteries caused vehicles not to be detected by the toll sensors, thereby attracting additional charges and fines. CityLink has since recognised that e-TAGs have a limited lifespan and have undertaken a campaign to raise awareness among customers to contact them should their e-TAG not beep.
As part of the development of CityLink, existing roads were upgraded and expanded, and tolling points were added. Toll charges now apply to the Monash Freeway (between Toorak Road and Punt Road) and the Tullamarine Freeway (south of Bulla Road). These roads did not cost tolls to use before.
Some nearby roads were altered to restrict rat runs to stop people using neighbourhood back streets as short cuts to avoid the toll. Some people have viewed this as local councils 'forcing' people to use CityLink.
CityLink account holders can, if they make multiple trips in a day, pay more to use the road than a casual user. A 24-hour Pass, for example, is charged at a flat rate, but an account holder pays per trip. Account holders who make multiple trips in a single day may pay more than a pass customer would. However, CityLink recognises this and account customers can remove their e-TAG device and buy a pass for the day: just like casual customers. However there is a limit to the number of passes that can be bought each 12 months. This limit applies to account holders and casual users.
The contract between the government and CityLink's owner Transurban has protections for both parties. One of these is the ability for Transurban to make a claim against the state government if the state government does something that reduces the number of cars that could use CityLink. In 2001 Transurban commenced legal proceedings against the State of Victoria over the construction of Wurundjeri Way through the Melbourne Docklands. It was alleged that this 'free' road was competing with CityLink and causing it to earn less revenue. This can potentially also be applied if the capacity of other roads or rail routes parallel to CityLink are expanded.
CityLink received negative media coverage when it was wrongly claimed that CityLink account holders' credit card details were stored on Transurban's public webserver and that someone had broken into the system and stolen tens of thousands of customers details. Customer details were stolen, not by an intruder via the web, but by a former employee who had misused access to the secure IT systems.
The two CityLink tunnels have regularly featured as discussion points on talkback radio, firstly for air quality. In the early days of operation, the air quality in the tunnels appeared smoggy. CityLink worked a way around the problem by adjusting the venting system which improved quality and dispersed exhaust fumes more effectively. The second issue was regarding the use of massive quantities of fresh drinking water pumped into the system to stabilise the tunnel environs. After some time, CityLink sought and obtained approval from the State Government to build a water recycling plant which meant they could rely primarily on recycled, and not drinking, water.
Exits and Interchanges
|Northbound exits||Distance to
Melbourne City Centre
continues as Tullamarine Freeway
to Bendigo, Seymour and Sydney
from Tullamarine Freeway
Pascoe Vale Road
|no exit||17||6||Brunswick, Northcote
Moonee Ponds, Ascot Vale, Maribyrnong
|no exit||19||4||Parkville, Melbourne City Centre
|Northbound exits||Distance to
|To Eastern Freeway
|no exit||21||4||Melbourne City Centre, Footscray
|Bolte Bridge||24||1||Bolte Bridge|
|Northbound exits||Exit Number
Distance to Melbourne Airport
continues from West Gate Freeway
|2||St Kilda, Frankston
Kings Way (Princes Highway)
|1E||Melbourne City Centre, Dandenong, Warragul
West Gate Freeway
|1W||West Gate Bridge, Geelong
West Gate Freeway
Exits are numbered at the interchange only.
|Westbound exits||Exit Number||Eastbound exits|
|End CityLink (Domain Tunnel)
continues as West Gate Freeway
to Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong
|–||Start CityLink (Burnley Tunnel)
from West Gate Freeway
|Domain Tunnel||–||Burnley Tunnel
No access to exit E1 and E2
|Melbourne City Centre
|E1||Start CityLink (Batman Avenue Extension)
from Batman Avenue
|Richmond, Clifton Hill
|CityLink (Batman Avenue Extension)
merges with CityLink (Burnley Tunnel)
from Monash Freeway
continues as Monash Freeway
to Dandenong and Warragul
- VicRoads (September 2013). "Direction Signs and Route Numbering (non-Freeway)" (PDF). Traffic Engineering Manual 2 (3 ed.). State Government of Victoria. pp. 27–28. Archived from the original on 30 December 2014.
- Andrew Nette. "CityLink and Nam Theun 2: Infrastructure for private profit" (PDF). www.terraper.org. Retrieved 17 July 2008.[dead link]
- Public Accounts and Estimates Committee (October 2006). Report on private investment in public infrastructure (PDF). www.parliament.vic.gov.au. p. 63. ISBN 0-9758189-1-0. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
- M. G. Lay and K. F. Daley (July 2002). "The Melbourne City Link Project". Transport Policy 9 (3). www.sciencedirect.com. Retrieved 17 July 2008.
- VicRoads. "Project Overview : CityLink". www.vicroads.vic.gov.au. Retrieved 17 July 2008.
- Public Transport Users Association. "Myth: The purpose of freeways is to bypass congested areas". www.ptua.org.au. Retrieved 17 July 2008.
- "Exhibition Street Extension Opening" (PDF). www.transurban.com.au. 26 October 1999. Archived from the original on 20 July 2008. Retrieved 17 July 2008.
- Hopkins, Philip (21 August 2003). "The Age – 'e-TAG woes take toll on Transurban shares'". Melbourne. Retrieved 12 August 2007.
- "CityLink – Using your e-TAG device". Retrieved 12 August 2007.[dead link]
- "ABC Radio 'The World Today' – 'Melbourne drivers object to CityLink' – Wednesday, 14 June". Retrieved 2 August 2007.
- "Minister of Transport media release – 'DATA SHOWS IMPROVEMENT IN CITY LINK TRAFFIC FLOW'". 21 September 2000. Retrieved 2 August 2007.[dead link]
- "Inquiry into Managing Transport Congestion by Moonee Valley City Council" (PDF). 4 January 2006. Retrieved 12 August 2007.
- CityLink – Types of Passes[dead link]
- "Minister of Transport media release – 'TRANSURBAN CLAIM OF $35 MILLION'". 1 March 2001. Retrieved 12 August 2007.
- "The Age – 'Tollway buyback would save money and ease traffic'". Melbourne. 3 February 2005. Retrieved 12 August 2007.
- "The Age – 'Bracks' freeway folly will cost us dearly'". Melbourne. 29 April 2004. Retrieved 12 August 2007.
- Transurban – Media release issued 5 Dec 2002 [dead link]
- CityLink – Tunnel Brochure[dead link]
- CityLink – Using Water Wisely Brochure[dead link]