West Gate Freeway
|West Gate Freeway
|Length||14 km (9 mi)|
|Major suburbs / towns||Altona North, Spotswood, Port Melbourne|
|Highways in Australia
National Highway • Freeways in Australia
Highways in Victoria
The West Gate Freeway (formerly the Lower Yarra Freeway) is a major freeway in Melbourne and the busiest urban freeway in Australia, carrying upwards of 200,000 vehicles per day. It links Geelong (via the Princes Freeway) and the Western suburbs to the Melbourne CBD and beyond. It is also a link between Melbourne and the west and linking industrial and residential areas west of the Yarra River with the city and port areas. The iconic West Gate Bridge is a part of the freeway.
It is a fully managed freeway and one of the best examples of this in the world, with a complete 'Freeway Management System' that is dynamically linked and adaptive to the entire M1 corridor. This includes the 2008 re-design of a substantial section. Overall, the freeway has between 4-6 lanes in each direction, with a maximum of 12 lanes at one point in its width.
The freeway was originally designated in the 1969 Melbourne Transportation Plan as the F9 Freeway corridor. Construction began on the first section in the late 1960s and was open to traffic by 1971, stretching from the intersection of the Princes Highway and Little Boundary Road in Altona North (later enlarged and named the West Gate Interchange) eastwards to Melbourne/Williamstown Roads just west of the mouth of the Yarra, initially designated with an F-82 shield. At the time, the only way to cross the Yarra west of the CBD was via a ferry crossing, which naturally saw far heavier demands once the Lower Yarra Freeway was officially opened.
The West Gate Bridge across the Yarra had started construction not too long before the opening of the freeway and, although delayed, when finally completed in 1978 allowed the freeway to extend over the river and directly into the CBD's south-western corner (via Rogers and Lorimer Streets). The freeway's name was changed to the West Gate Freeway to commemorate its opening, but the freeway also attracted tolls from anyone using the bridge (between Melbourne/Williamstown Road and Rogers Street) between 16 November 1978 and 29 November 1985. The toll plaza was located on the city side of the bridge where the service stations are now located. National Route 1 - previously designated along Geelong Road (Princes Highway West) and through the CBD via Smithfield and Flemington Roads and King Street - was altered to use the freeway instead and rejoin Kings Way via Rogers, Lorimer and Clarendon Streets.
Timeline of construction
- 1971 - ‘Lower Yarra Freeway’. Original 4 miles opened from Princes Highway to Williamstown Road on 7 April 1971. Originally 3 lanes in each direction. Cost: $A14m.
- 1978 - West Gate Bridge. Opened 15 November 1978, by the Premier, the Hon. R J Hamer, ED, MP.
- 1990/1991 – ‘A third lane is being built in both directions on the West Gate Freeway between Princes Highway and Millers Road’. This possibly conflicts with information given in the Country Roads Board’s 58th Annual Report, which states that the freeway opened with three lanes in each direction in 1971, whilst omitting that the third lane only existed between Millers Road and Williamstown Road.
Due to the extra traffic the West Gate Freeway was attracting—and due to the safety concerns of having excess traffic filter through connector streets in South Melbourne—the freeway was finally extended to Kings Way above the Grant Street intersection using elevated carriageways in 1987. Expansion of the original two lane freeway on the western side of the bridge to three lanes each way was carried out in 1993, and expansion to four lanes followed in 2000. With the subsequent completion of the Western Ring Road joining the West Gate Interchange to the freeway's west and CityLink to the freeway's east, it also funnels traffic from northern and western suburbs around Melbourne, acting as a bypass freeway.
The entire freeway has been given an M1 designation. It gains the Tourist 2 shield at the Melbourne/Williamstown Road interchange in Spotswood, and loses it at the Montague Street interchange in Port Melbourne.
Traffic volumes on the West Gate Freeway have grown steadily since opening, carrying up to 180,000 vehicles every day. Congestion frequently occurs at the Montague Street and Bolte Bridge interchanges due to conflicting traffic movements on and off the freeway. On 1 May 2008 the Minister for Roads and Ports Tim Pallas announced design details for the West Gate Freeway improvements, to assist in maintaining rapidly growing volume capacity and to reduce congestion
- a full freeway management system, made up of Ramp Metering (Signalling), Lane Use Management Signs (overhead lane availability / variable speed zones), electronic on-road message signs, arterial road message signs, CCTV cameras and a suite of freeway traffic algorithms and software with data stations, thousands of sensors and a core server at the VicRoads TMC.
- the addition of a new elevated road structure joining the outbound Kings Way on-ramp to the Freeway
- new traffic ramps over Montague Street
- an additional dedicated exit ramp from the Bolte Bridge to the Freeway
- widening of the freeway between Todd Road and Montague Street
- redesign of the Montague Street interchange.
To see a map of the new design, click here .
These works help reduce merging and weaving movements at key points on the freeway, leading to a smoother traffic flow and improved driver safety. As part of the works the Montague Street on-ramp city bound had been closed for approximately 18 months to enable the new one to be built.
Early works on the West Gate Freeway, including geo-technical investigations and service proving, commenced in late 2007. In early 2008 construction works started on the freeway widening, specifically in the South Melbourne area. New traffic lanes and ramps have be completed and opened in different stages with the total project scheduled for completion in late 2010.
The West Gate Freeway officially begins at the West Gate Interchange in Altona North, with four lanes running in each direction. The freeway flows from the Western Ring Road and the Princes Freeway with access to the Princes Highway (Geelong Road) also provided with city bound exit and Geelong bound entry ramps.
Soon after the bridge crossing, the freeway becomes elevated for its remaining length, with access ramps to Melbourne's central business district. Continuing to drive eastward on the freeway after the Power Street exit results in entering the electronically tolled CityLink, and travelling through the Burnley Tunnel.
The usual peak period travel time, is between 16–24 minutes. However, in times of extreme congestion, including being residual due an incident, the travel time can go well beyond half an hour.
Exits and Interchanges
|West Gate Freeway|
|Westbound exits||Exit Number||Eastbound exits|
|End West Gate Freeway
continues as Princes Freeway West
|W10||Start West Gate Freeway
from Princes Freeway West
|Ballarat, Adelaide, Sydney
Western Ring Road
Melbourne Road / Williamstown Road
Williamstown Road / Melbourne Road
|WEST GATE BRIDGE||--||WEST GATE BRIDGE|
|UNITED WEST GATE SOUTH SERVICE CENTRE||--||UNITED WEST GATE NORTH SERVICE CENTRE|
|South Melbourne, Docklands
No access from Kings Way (Princes Highway) on-ramp.
|W3||Docklands, South Melbourne
|St Kilda, Melbourne City Centre
Kings Way (Princes Highway)
|W2||St Kilda; To Frankston
Kings Way (Princes Highway)
|Southbank, Melbourne City Centre
|W1||Southbank, Melbourne City Centre
|Start West Gate Freeway
continues from CityLink (Domain Tunnel)
|--||End West Gate Freeway
continues as CityLink (Burnley Tunnel)
to Dandenong / Traralgon
- F82 via West Gate Freeway, Main Roads Victoria. Retrieved on 4 September 2013.[self-published source]
- M1 West Gate Freeway - Gateway to Melbourne's West, Main Roads Victoria. Retrieved on 4 September 2013.[self-published source]
- Country Roads Board Victoria. Fifty-eighth Report: for the year ended 30th June, 1971. Burwood, Victoria: Brown, Prior, Anderson, 1971. p. 2
- Country Roads Board Victoria. 66th Annual Report. 1978-1979. Kew, Victoria: Country Roads Board Victoria, 1979. p. 9
- "M1 West Gate Freeway". mrv.ozroads.com.au. Retrieved 2008-05-13.[self-published source]
- "Miscellaneous:1977. West Gate Bridge Toll Plaza". www.picturevictoria.vic.gov.au. Retrieved 2008-05-13.
- VicRoads. VicRoads Annual Report, 1990-1991, Kew, Victoria: VicRoads, 1991, p. 39
- "Media Release from the Minister for Roads and Ports: M1 UPGRADE STARTS TO TAKE SHAPE". www.mcwupgrade.com.au. 1 May 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-07-19. Retrieved 2008-05-13.
- "May 2008 - M1 upgrade starts to take shape". Monash - CityLink - West Gate upgrade. www.mcwupgrade.com.au. Archived from the original on 2008-05-28. Retrieved 2008-05-13.
- "2011 Winner". Australian Construction Achievement Award. Retrieved 9 September 2011.