Eastern Freeway (Melbourne)

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Eastern Freeway
General information
Type Freeway
Length 18 km (11 mi)
Opened 1970s
Route number(s)
  • (2008-present)
  • Entire Route
route number
Major junctions
West end
East end
Major suburbs / towns Bulleen, Doncaster, Box Hill North
Highway system
Highways in Australia
National HighwayFreeways in Australia
Highways in Victoria

The Eastern Freeway[2] is an urban freeway in eastern Melbourne, the state capital of Victoria, Australia. It is one of the most important freeways in terms of commuting to the city, connecting Alexandra Parade and Hoddle Street in the inner suburbs, with EastLink tollway farther east. It consists of between three to six lanes (including the Hard Shoulder Running lane during peak periods) in each direction, also an inbound transit lane reserved for vehicles with two or more occupants during peak hours.

It is the continually widest freeway in Melbourne, with 12 lanes altogether near the Hoddle Street and Alexandra Parade end.


Originally designated F-19 during its construction in the early 1970s, it was supposed to be linked to the then-new Tullamarine Freeway, as well as taking traffic off the Maroondah Highway. Protests from inner Melbourne suburbs residents led it being terminated at Hoddle Street. Its initial route designation was F83 then State Route 83 and now the M3. The current incarnation was constructed in stages from 1977 to 1997:

  • 1977 - Hoddle Street to Bulleen Road. Opened in three stages, December 1977. Hoddle Street to Chandler Highway; Chandler Highway to Burke Road; Burke Road to Bulleen Road.[3]
  • 1982 - Bulleen Road to Doncaster Road. This 3 km section was opened 3 June 1982, by Minister for Transport, the Hon S M Crabb MP. Originally two lanes in each direction, plus emergency stopping lanes, at a cost of $A24m.[4]
  • 1997 - Doncaster Road to Springvale Road. This 7 km extension was opened to traffic in December 1997, at a cost of $A250m.[5]

Originally, the freeway was to terminate at the intersection of Maroondah Highway and Mount Dandenong Road in Ringwood. It was meant to connect to the Eastern Ring Road before that. Instead, the Eastern Ring Road and the last Eastern Freeway extension was merged into one project (Eastlink) and the remainder of the Eastern Freeway reservation was built into the Ringwood bypass, which opened in July 2008.

Eastern Freeway viewed facing the city at sunset from the Belford Road overpass, in Kew. The wide median, designed to accommodate a double-track railway, can be seen.

The first stage, from Hoddle Street to Bulleen Road, was controversial and met much opposition because it was constructed through the middle of Yarra Bend Park. The first two stages were designed to enable the construction of the Doncaster railway line down the centre of the freeway to Bulleen Road. An extra-wide median strip, which was kept free of support pylons for over-bridges, was provided to allow for the railway.

Land was also reserved from Bulleen Road to Doncaster East to extend the proposed railway line, but the plan fell out of favour in the 1980s and the land was sold.[6] In recent years, amidst growing congestion problems and increased awareness of unsustainable methods of transport in Melbourne, there has been massive local council lobbying (by Melbourne, Yarra and Manningham) and public pressure placed on the State Government for the rail line to be constructed.[7] The final stage, completed in 2008, connected the freeway to the Ringwood Bypass and the Monash and Frankston Freeways.


Hoddle Street, viewed from the east.

The Eastern Freeway starts at its junction with Hoddle Street, as an eastern continuation of Alexandra Parade (referred to in VicRoads documents as the Eastern Highway), with five lanes eastbound and two lanes westbound. Three more lanes (that provide an exit to Hoddle Street) join the freeway after it leaves the junction. The freeway narrows to four lanes in each direction near Chandler Highway and Yarra Bend.

The freeway narrows to three lanes just before Bulleen Road, and features a concrete barrier rather than the grassy median that was designed to carry a railway. There is a short four lane section between Tram and Blackburn Roads, then three lanes to the end at Springvale Road, and connects to EastLink to Ringwood and Frankston. The freeway was unique in that it did not connect to any other freeway prior to EastLink being built.

The travel time on the Eastern Freeway in each direction, is 13 minutes. (5 minutes between Springvale Road and Doncaster Road and 8 minutes between Doncaster Road and Hoddle Street).

The usual peak period travel time, is between 16–26 minutes. However, during times of extreme congestion, including residual from an incident, the travel time can go well beyond half an hour.


Despite the inherent danger in small and large vehicles traveling at high speeds, the freeway is generally considered one of the safest in Melbourne, with minimal height changes and flowing route, ample shoulder space and well maintained safety barriers. Long sections of the freeway suffer from low lighting levels due to its route and proximity to residential areas.

In the seven years preceding and including 2009, six people died in a section of the freeway known as the Bulleen Bend. This is the tightest bend in the freeway's length, between the Bulleen and Doncaster Road interchanges. Despite the relatively tight bend and 100 km/h limit, there are few safety barriers on the extremities of the road surface, leaving nothing between the cars and the trees on the road shoulder. In 2009 it was announced that $5 million would be spent on installing new barriers in this section.

Extension plans[edit]

There has been widespread speculation that a tunnel linking Hoddle Street to CityLink and the Western Ring Road could potentially be built at some future date.[8] The Eastern Freeway has no connecting freeways at the city end and traffic from the Eastern Freeway is released westward along Alexandra Parade and north-south along Hoddle Street.

On 1 March 2007, the Labor Government announced a study linking the major freeways, headed by international transport expert Sir Rod Eddington. The Eddington Transport Report received much criticism for its lack of information regarding mass transit infrastructure. The Labor government said it will eventually be built, but in stages.[citation needed] There has been no confirmation on the building of the road except a part of the western section.

Speed enforcement[edit]

The entire freeway has a 100 km/h (62 mph) speed limit. There are no fixed speed cameras, however Victoria Police regularly patrol the full length of the freeway to enforce the speed limit. VicRoads also operates a network of CCTV cameras across the entire length of the freeway and abnormal traffic movements by vehicles are reported to Victoria Police.

Exits and Interchanges[edit]

Eastern Freeway
Westbound exits Distance to
Melbourne CBD
Distance to
Eastbound exits
End Eastern Freeway
continues as Alexandra Parade
to Parkville / Footscray
4 62 Start Eastern Freeway
from Alexandra Parade
Richmond, Clifton Hill
Hoddle Street
Kew, Ivanhoe
Chandler Highway
7 59 Ivanhoe, Kew
Chandler Highway
no exit 10 56 Heidelberg, Camberwell
Burke Road
Kew, Bulleen
Bulleen Road
12 54 Bulleen, Kew
Bulleen Road
Thompsons Road
Balwyn North, Doncaster
Doncaster Road
14 52 Doncaster, Balwyn North
Doncaster Road
no exit 16 50 Doncaster, Burwood
Elgar Road
Box Hill, Doncaster
Station Street / Tram Road
17 49 no exit
Mount Waverley, Templestowe
Middleborough Road / Wetherby Road
18 48 Templestowe, Mount Waverley
Wetherby Road / Middleborough Road
no exit 20 46 Warrandyte, Blackburn
Blackburn Road / Surrey Road
Start Eastern Freeway
continues from EastLink
22 44 Donvale, Nunawading
Springvale Road
End Eastern Freeway
continues as EastLink
to Ringwood / Frankston


Eastern Freeway on Google Maps.

Freeway map[edit]

See also[edit]

Portal icon Australian Roads portal


  1. ^ Route Numbering History, Main Roads Victoria. Retrieved on 4 September 2013.[self-published source]
  2. ^ M3 Eastern Freeway - Melbourne's gateway to the east, Main Roads Victoria. Retrieved on 4 September 2013.[self-published source]
  3. ^ Country Roads Board Victoria. Sixty-Fifth Annual Report: for the year ended 30th June, 1978. Melbourne, Victoria: Government Printer, 1978. p. 7
  4. ^ Country Roads Board Victoria. 69th Annual Report. 1981-1982. Kew, Victoria: Country Roads Board Victoria, 1982. p. 11
  5. ^ Vicroads. Vicroads Annual Report 1997-98. Kew, Victoria: Vicroads, 1998, p. 31
  6. ^ Stephen Cauchi (February 1998). "Whatever Happened to the Proposed Railway to Doncaster East". Newsrail (Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division)) 26 (2): page 40–44. 
  7. ^ How to fix Melbourne's woes
  8. ^ http://mrv.ozroads.net.au/SRNS/M%20Routes/M3%20Eastern/history.htm[self-published source]