Southern Expressway (Australia)

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Southern Expressway
South Australia
Southern expressway entrance, bedford pk.jpg
Main South Road at the northern end of the expressway (looking south), closed to south-bound traffic
General information
Type Expressway
Length 21 km (13 mi)
Opened 17 December 1997
Maintained by Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure
Route number(s)
  • M2
  • (Entire length)
Major junctions
North end
South end
Major suburbs / towns Bedford Park, Darlington, O'Halloran Hill, Trott Park, Reynella, Morphett Vale, Noarlunga Downs, Seaford

The Southern Expressway is an expressway in South Australia. It was previously the world's longest reversible one way freeway, although it has since been turned into a regular 2-direction freeway. Originally proposed as 'Noarlunga Freeway', it was built as a corridor to relieve heavy traffic from the major arterial, Main South Road, in Adelaide's south. The expressway was built in two stages — the first completed in late 1997, the second in 2001. The total cost of the arterial was A$76.5m, and it is 21 km in total length. Main South Road provides both the start and finish. There are exits at Marion Road, Panalatinga Road, Sherriffs Road and Beach Road. The Southern Expressway is signed as M2.

Construction of the expressway also included the Adelaide Southern Veloway for cyclists, which runs alongside it for 7 km, from Marion/Main South Road to the Panalatinga Tunnel. South of the Panalatinga Tunnel, the bikeway becomes a shared track for the remaining 12 km of the expressway. The expressway crosses over the Coast to Vines rail trail at both Panalatinga Road and at the expressway's Southern end.


On 17 February 2010 Premier Mike Rann announced that the expressway would be duplicated in a A$445m project.[1] However, the inclusion of a new A$75m interchange at Darlington was later scrapped, after the government planning for a major transport hub at Darlington discovered the need for a $50 million section of road that would have to be destroyed when the expressway was eventually duplicated..[2]

The expressway opened to two-way traffic on 3 August 2014.[3] The new road was built entirely on the western side of the original roadway, and is four lanes wide between Reynella and Marion Road in the northbound. Being open 24 hours a day, in both directions, removed much of the previous confusion caused locals and visitors as to when, and which direction the expressway ran. Accessibility has been improved with the project, with completely new intersections at Beach Road and Sheriffs Road, as well as being able to left turn out at Old Noarlunga, right turn out at Marion Road, and left turn in at Marion Road.[4]


The expressway was formerly approximately 21 hours per day, one way for over 10 hours in each direction. The northbound (city-bound) direction occured on weekday mornings (2:00am – 12:30pm) and weekend evenings (2:00pm – 12:30am), the southbound direction on weekday evenings (2:00pm – 12:30am) and weekend mornings (2:00am – 12:30pm).[5] It was closed 12:30am – 2:00am and 12:30pm – 2:00pm, except for Saturday and Monday mornings when the direction remained unchanged. Weekday public holidays also operated under the weekend's opening times to accommodate tourists travelling to the Fleurieu Peninsula. During each closure all road signs, lights and boom gates changed over, and the road was inspected by a tow truck contractor for debris and car breakdowns. However, now with the duplication complete as of August 3, 2014, the Expressway operates as any other controlled access motorway, with full 24 hour traffic flow in both directions.


The expressway is the southern part of a north-south freeway originally conceptualised under the Metropolitan Adelaide Transport Study (MATS), completed in 1965, as a freeway bypassing the city from Dry Creek to Old Noarlunga.[6] The MATS plan proved unpopular, and in 1971 all further highway construction in Adelaide was postponed for a period of ten years. In 1983 plans for the freeway north of Darlington were abandoned, and the land that had been set aside was progressively sold off.

In 1984 the state government announced plans to develop a "third arterial road" for the south. In 1987 the project was split into two phases, the first the upgrading of Main South Road and Marion Road in the Darlington area, and the second a new road from Darlington to Reynella. Phase one was completed in 1994 with the widening of Main South Road to eight lanes between Ayliffes Road and Seacombe Road, and the widening of Marion Road to six lanes between Main South Road and Sturt Road.

Phase 2 became the expressway, which was to be constructed in two stages: from Darlington to Reynella, and from Reynella to Old Noarlunga. It was developed as a one-way reversible road with future duplication provided for in the roadworks base, to be constructed when the need arose. It used the remaining "Noarlunga Freeway" reservation, except for the northernmost kilometre where a new route through O'Halloran Hill was chosen to provide high-quality links with Marion and Main South Roads without interfering with existing infrastructure at Sturt.

Construction of the expressway commenced in July 1995 and the first stage was opened to traffic on 17 December 1997. Construction commenced on the second stage in February 1999 and was opened to traffic on 9 September 2001.

Although a boon to residents living a substantial distance south of the CBD, the expressway does not commence until some 15 km south of the CBD. This fact, combined with its one-way operation, design compromises, and the fact that it bypasses large sections of existing freeway-class road, have led many to question its benefit.

In 2007 the Howard Government pledged $100m towards widening the expressway in its unsuccessful re-election bid.[7]

On 17 February 2010, during the state election campaign, Premier Mike Rann announced that, if re-elected, the government would commit $445 million for the ‘duplication’ of the expressway, enabling traffic to flow both ways simultaneously. Premier Rann said that construction would begin at the end of 2011 and should be completed by mid-2014.[8]

Once duplication was announced in 2010, construction started one year later in 2011. The first construction-related expressway closures were 3 consecutive days in January 2012, out of peak hours, but is the most disruption the road has experienced since the opening of Stage 2, with only day-long resurfacing of line-marking, and cycle rides disrupting the expressway previously.

Exits and intersections[edit]

Southern Expressway Australian Alphanumeric State Route M2.png
Southbound exits Distance from
Bedford Park
Northbound exits
Start Southern Expressway Australian Alphanumeric State Route M2.png
continues from Main South Road Australian Alphanumeric State Route A13.svg
0 km End Southern Expressway Australian Alphanumeric State Route M2.png
Merges with Main South Road Australian Alphanumeric State Route A13.svg
to Australian Alphanumeric State Route A3.svg & City
no exit City via Main South Rd
South Road State Route A13 Controlled Intersection
no exit 0.5 km City via Marion Rd
Marion Road Australian Alphanumeric State Route A14.svg
Reynella, Woodcroft
Panalatinga Road
South Road State Route A13
5.6 km no exit
Sheriffs Road
9.9 km Lonsdale
Sheriffs Road
Noarlunga Centre, Christie Downs
Beach Road
14.3 km Noarlunga Centre, Christie Downs
Beach Road
Old Noarlunga, Victor Harbor
Main South Road State Route A13 Controlled Intersection
21.0 km no exit
End Southern Expressway Australian Alphanumeric State Route M2.png
Merges with Main South Road
to Australian Alphanumeric State Route A13.svg & Australian Alphanumeric State Route B23.svg
Start Southern Expressway Australian Alphanumeric State Route M2.png
continues from Main South Road Australian Alphanumeric State Route A13.svg


Southern Expressway National Route M1
Main South Road State Route A13
State Route A13 Main South Road
Bedford Park Interchange
Marion Road State Route A14
State Route A14 Marion Road
Darlington Interchange
Seacombe Road
Seacombe Road
Majors Road
Majors Road
Lander Road
Lander Road
State Route A13 Main South Road
Reynella Interchange
Panalatinga Road
State Route A13 Main South Road
Young Street
Young Street
Moore Road
Moore Road
Brodie Road
Sherriffs Road
Sherriffs Road
Lonsdale Interchange
Brodie Road
O'Sullivan Beach Road
O'Sullivan Beach Road
Flaxmill Road
Flaxmill Road
Elizabeth Road
Elizabeth Road
Noarlunga Interchange
Beach Road
Beach Road
Honeypot Road
Honeypot Road
Old Noarlunga Interchange
Main South Road State Route A13
State Route A13 Main South Road


Southern Expressway over the Field River in Reynella

The 15 bridges over the expressway from north to south are:

No. Name Suburb Type
1 Seacombe Road Darlington Vehicle
2 Majors Road O'Halloran Hill Vehicle
3 Glenthorne Path O'Halloran Hill Foot
4 Young Street Reynella Vehicle
5 Moore Road Reynella Vehicle
6 Sugarbush Path Reynella Foot
7 O'Sullivan Beach Road Morphett Vale Vehicle
8 Glenhelen Path Morphett Vale Foot
9 Flaxmill Road Morphett Vale Vehicle
10 Elizabeth Road Morphett Vale Vehicle
11 Beach Road Morphett Vale Vehicle
12 Poznan Path Hackham Foot
13 Honeypot Road Hackham Vehicle
14 Peppermint Path Hackham Foot
15 Perry Path Hackham Foot

Due to the duplication of the Expressway, all of the bridges have had to be widened to meet the new width of the road, with some road bridges being closed due to the work needed, and others requiring a lower speed limit for safety reasons. This has caused some anger with many southern residents and those that work in the area due to the longer routes and travel times required, with most of the work affecting the heavier populated areas around Morphett Vale and Noarlunga for well over 12 months from May 2012.

The expressway has five underpasses:

No. Location Suburb Type
1 Marion Road Sturt Vehicle
2 O'Halloran Hill Recreation Park O'Halloran Hill Foot
3 Lander Road Trott Park Vehicle
4 Sherriffs Road Reynella Vehicle
5 Southern Expressway Southern terminus Huntfield Heights Bicycle

Promotional FM radio transmitter[edit]

During its construction and for some time after its opening, the expressway was promoted via a dedicated FM radio station established by the Department of Transport broadcasting via a low-power FM transmitter in the immediate vicinity of the road.[9] The radio station broadcast a recorded message on continuous loop featuring promotional and community information messages relating to the expressway, including a jingle that Transport Minister Diana Laidlaw declared made the expressway the only road in the world to have its own jingle.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "New Southern Expressway freeway Darlington interchange scrapped". AdelaideNow. 22 August 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2011. 
  3. ^ "Southern Expressway flows in two ways". The Times, Victor Harbor, Fairfax Regional Media. 5 August 2014. Retrieved 5 August 2014. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Southern Expressway". Government of South Australia. Archived from the original on 3 May 2013. Retrieved 3 November 2013. 
  6. ^ MATS plan freeways,
  7. ^ PM's $100m pledge, Mark Kenny, The Advertiser, 18 August 2007.
  8. ^ SA government News Release 17 February 2010
  9. ^ The Hon. Sandra Kanck MLC. "Hansard 17 October 1995". Hansard of the Legislative Council of South Australia. Retrieved 2008-12-29. [dead link]

External links[edit]