M80 Ring Road, Melbourne

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M80 Ring Road
Western Ring Road, Metropolitan Ring Road
Victoria
General information
Type Freeway
Length 38 km (24 mi)
Opened 1990
Route number(s)
  • M80 (1997-present)
  • Entire route
Former
route number
Major junctions
SW end
 
NE end
Location(s)
Major suburbs / towns Sunshine West, Ardeer, Cairnlea, St. Albans, Keilor East, Keilor Park, Tullamarine, Airport West, Gowanbrae, Campbellfield, Thomastown, Bundoora
Highway system
Highways in Australia
National HighwayFreeways in Australia
Highways in Victoria

The M80 Ring Road, more formally known as the Western Ring Road and Metropolitan Ring Road, is a freeway corridor in Melbourne, Australia, connecting the northern suburbs and the western suburbs to other Victorian urban and rural freeways:

It is linked to the eastern suburbs by the shorter Metropolitan Ring Road; the two are collectively called 'the Ring Road', and are generally considered together on traffic reports. It is signed as route M80 for its entire length.

The road relieves freight traffic from Sydney Road, Pascoe Vale Road and Geelong Road and funnels them to the freeways. With connections to every major interstate and regional freeways, it has encouraged both industrial and residential growth in Melbourne's western suburbs.

Over the past few years there have been discussions about extending the Metropolitan Ring Road from Greensborough Road and tunnelling it under Greensborough and going through the Banyule Flats and connecting to the Eastern Freeway at Bulleen. A study has been initiated by VicRoads to supplement the Western Ring Road with an Outer Metropolitan Ring Road.

A major upgrade of the entire route commenced in 2009. It is expected to be finalised by 2014, and includes widening and a Freeway Management System.

History[edit]

The Ring Road project was proposed as part of the 1969 Melbourne Transportation Plan (F3 & F5 Freeway corridor) and has documented in almost every edition of the Melway Street Directory since that time. Construction of the Western Ring Road began in 1989 with work on the Broadmeadows section, and was completed with the final link between the Calder and Tullamarine Freeways. Under the Keating Commonwealth government, a total $555 million was provided by the Federal Government for the Western Ring Road, with a $76 million contribution from the Victorian Government.

Completed in stages, they opened to traffic as follows:[1]

  • Tullamarine Freeway to Pascoe Vale Road: September 1992
  • Pascoe Vale Road to Hume Highway: July 1993
  • Keilor Park Drive to Western Highway: July 1995
  • Western Highway to Boundary Road, Laverton: March 1996
  • Boundary Road to Princes Freeway: October 1996
  • Calder Freeway to Keilor Park Drive: December 1996
  • Tullamarine Freeway to Calder Freeway: June 1997

The project is generally divided into 3 sections:

Western Ring Road at Keilor Park
  • Western Ring Road: This is the section between the West Gate Freeway and the Hume Freeway. It is currently named and signed as M80 - "Western Ring Road" for its entire length. This section was previously a 'National Highway' until 2013 and was signed with a National Highway M80 shield from Western Highway (Ballarat Road) to Hume Highway (Sydney Road). It was changed to 'state route' M80, for continuity with the rest of the freeway and to complement all infrastructure and signage with the 2009-2014 upgrade (the 'national highway' function and its shields are slowly being phased-out across Victoria following newer federal government initiatives and programs such as AusLink or the Nation Building Program).
  • Northern Ring Road: This section is currently named and signed as M80 - Metropolitan Ring Road although many people do not know that is its current official title. It is located between the Hume Freeway and the Greensborough Highway.
  • Non-Official "M80 Ring Road" Road/Route:

Eastern Ring Road (M3): This 39 km section, officially named EastLink and opened to the public on 29 June 2008, connects the Eastern Freeway to the Frankston Freeway. Originally planned to be free from tolls and partially funded by the Federal Government, the Victorian Government under Steve Bracks broke its election promise and pushed for the road to be tolled.

2009 – 2014 upgrade[edit]

Upgrading and widening of the Western and Metropolitan Ring Roads is to be carried out between 2009 and 2014, funded by the Federal Government Auslink 2 program.[2] The entire length of the Freeway is being upgraded, within individual sections over a number of years. Work started in 2009 and it is expected to be fully completed in 2013 / 2014; with at least two large sections already completed or near complete. Along with the $2.25 billion upgrade, is a new 'Freeway Management System' that includes Ramp Signals (Traffic Lights located within on-ramps), overhead lane signs (electronic variable speed limits and lane symbols) & overhead electronic message boards; along with various new CCTV cameras and 'intelligent' sensors underground (to detect freeway congestion for signals). This system will be controlled and managed by VicRoads. The entire upgrade is being jointly funded by the State Government of Victoria (Australia) and Federal Government of Australia, being fully controlled and operated by the State's 'Road & Traffic Authority' - VicRoads. This is the most major and expensive road upgrade in Victoria, since the M1 (Monash Freeway / Citylink) upgrade which was completed in 2007/2008.

In late 2009, construction began on the upgrade and widening of 38 kilometres (24 mi) of the M80 from Princes Freeway at Laverton North to the Greensborough Highway at Greensborough. The first stage involved widening the 9.7 km stretch from Calder Freeway to Sydney Road to 6-8 lanes.[3]

The upgrade has slowed the average speed on the Western Ring Road to 25kmph from Sydney Rd on ramp to the exit onto the Princess Freeway.[4]

VicRoads has produced an official 'M80 Upgrade Website' with links to a newly created site showing video simulations, maps and 'what's new' on the freeway, for already or nearly completed sections.[5]

Missing section[edit]

Main article: North East Link

Currently, the easternmost point of the Northern Ring Road terminates at Greensborough at the Greensborough Bypass. There are no announced plans to extend the road further to the Eastern Ring Road (Eastern Freeway or Eastlink) or to any other roads in the South East of Melbourne. The completion of the ring road would compete for traffic with the proposed East-West road tunnel in inner Melbourne. As a result, it is unclear when or even if the Metropolitan Ring Road's missing section will ever be built.

While the route for this missing section is unclear, it would take the road through areas that are environmentally and politically sensitive, such as Viewbank, Banyule Flats, Eltham, Templestowe or Warrandyte. The link to the east may well have to be provided by other means, such as the proposed tunnel to connect the Eastern Freeway with Melbourne's west.

Another possible route for the freeway has been suggested that would result in existing transmission line corridors being utilized.[6] The official reservation for the extension ends at Ryans Road in Eltham North, but these transmission line corridors could be used to carry the freeway through to Eastlink in Ringwood. Environmental impacts would still be a problem including noise, pollution, possible destruction of vegetation and the interruption of wildlife crossings. Less opposition from local politicians and the public would be likely if the much more expensive option of tunneling is chosen (if the extension does actually proceed).

If completed it will provide a circumferential route around Melbourne starting from Altona and ending in Frankston. The resulting beltway will be similar to the size and scope of Sydney's Orbital Motorway and would enable traffic to transit between the Hume and Calder Highways and Melbourne's outer east without having to cross Melbourne's inner suburbs.

On 7 July 2008 it was announced by Premier John Brumby that the completion of the Missing Section was again being considered by the Victorian State Government as part of a wider plan to deal with Melbourne's traffic problems.[7] A new freeway through some of the city's most environmentally sensitive areas is among a series of proposals considered in the plan. Environmental concerns about building the road through the green wedge and the disruption of communities in the area have been raised.

Purpose[edit]

Much controversy surrounds the Metropolitan Ring Road project in Melbourne in many different topics including; environmental, economical, social, private & public transportation and both positive and negative aspects are well represented for each topic by many people and groups small and large. This has led to heavy debate in all areas of society in Melbourne from political and media to general public views and conversations.

The road serves various uses:

  • integrating the metropolitan area by linking middle and outer suburbs
  • assisting circumferential travel through the middle suburbs as opportunities for cross town movement are limited
  • linking the growing populations in the south-east and west suburbs to jobs and economic opportunities throughout the metropolitan area
  • providing access to Melbourne Airport, the ports of Melbourne and Geelong, and rail freight terminals, from all parts of Melbourne and from across the State
  • provide good access to the whole of the Melbourne metropolitan area to and from country Victoria and interstate.

Route[edit]

EJ Whitten Bridge

The Western Ring Road is 28 km long, and the Metropolitan Ring Road is 10 km long, for a total length of 38 km. The freeway changes its name at the Hume Freeway (Craigieburn Bypass). The freeway had previously changed its name at Sydney Road, but that point shifted with the opening of the Bypass, extending the Western Ring Road by 2 km.

A major feature of the road is the EJ Whitten Bridge over the Maribyrnong River, named after Australian rules football player Ted Whitten.

The road is divided, carries between two and four lanes of traffic in either direction, and has a non-peak speed limit of 100 km/h for almost its entire length; between Greensborough Bypass and Plenty Road, the speed limit drops to 90 km/h and the road is undivided (although there are still two lanes in either direction). The Western Ring Road between the Western Highway and the Tullamarine Freeway is configured with variable speed limits, which can vary between 60 km/h and 100 km/h depending upon traffic conditions.

Standard travel time for the M80 Ring Road is 27 minutes (21 minutes on the Western Ring Road and 6 minutes on the Metropolitan Ring Road) in both directions. However, the 'peak' freeway travel time typically vary between 30–45 minutes in each direction, unless there are significant accidents or breakdowns in lane(s), which can stretch travel times beyond an hour.

During the peak periods, the freeway is generally at its heaviest, as of 2013, at the following sections:

Altona Bound (Inbound):

  • Morning:

- Dalton Road to High Street; Western Freeway to West Gate Freeway / Princes Freeway

  • Afternoon:

- Calder Freeway to Keilor Park Drive

Greensborough Bound (Outbound):

  • Morning:

- Furlong Road to Sunshine Avenue

  • Afternoon:

- West Gate Freeway / Princes Freeway to Boundary Road; Western Highway to Sunshine Avenue; Hume Freeway to Plenty Road

Exits and Interchanges[edit]

Western / Metropolitan Ring Road
Northbound exits Distance to
Greensborough
(km)
Distance to
Melbourne
(km)
Southbound exits
Australia W3-3.svg Traffic Lights (clockwise from freeway)
Greensborough Highway to Diamond Creek and Hurstbridge
Greensborough Highway to Greensborough and Melbourne
End Metropolitan Ring Road 3 34 Start Metropolitan Ring Road
Whittlesea, Bundoora
Plenty Road
5 32 Bundoora, Whittlesea
Plenty Road
Epping, Reservoir
Dalton Road
8 29 Reservoir, Epping
Dalton Road
Thomastown, Epping
Edgars Road
10 27 Campbellfield, Thomastown
Edgars Road
Northbound exits Distance to
Sydney
(km)
Distance to
Melbourne
(km)
Southbound exits
continues as Metropolitan Ring Road 855 25 Seymour, Sydney
Hume Freeway
Seymour, Sydney
Hume Freeway
continues as Western Ring Road
Craigieburn, Coburg
Sydney Road
857 23 Coburg, Craigieburn
Sydney Road
Broadmeadows, Glenroy
Pascoe Vale Road
861 19 no exit
Sunbury
Tullamarine Freeway Melbourne Airport
862 18 Melbourne, Sunbury
Tullamarine Freeway Melbourne Airport
Tullamarine, Airport West
Melrose Drive
Northbound exits Distance to
Sydney
(km)
Distance to
Adelaide
(km)
Southbound exits
Tullamarine, Airport West
Airport Drive
Westfield Drive
864 725 Airport West, Tullamarine
Westfield Drive
Airport Drive
Melbourne
Calder Freeway
866 723 Bendigo
Calder Freeway
To Bendigo
Keilor Park, Avondale Heights
Keilor Park Drive
868 721 Keilor Park, Avondale Heights
Keilor Park Drive
Taylors Lakes, Sunshine
McIntyre Road / Sunshine Avenue
872 717 Sunshine, Taylors Lakes
McIntyre Road / Sunshine Avenue
St Albans, Sunshine
Furlong Road
874 715 Sunshine, St Albans
Furlong Road
Deer Park, Sunshine
Ballarat Road
876 713 Sunshine, Deer Park
Ballarat Road
Northbound exits Distance to
Adelaide
(km)
Distance to
Melbourne
(km)
Southbound exits
Laverton, Ardeer
Fitzgerald Road
711 18 Ballarat, Adelaide
Western Freeway
Ballarat, Adelaide
Western Freeway
Ardeer, Laverton
Fitzgerald Road
7 ELEVEN SERVICE CENTRE 712 17 7 ELEVEN SERVICE CENTRE
Truganina, Sunshine
Boundary Road
713 16 Sunshine, Truganina
Boundary Road
Start Western Ring Road
continues from West Gate and Princes Freeway
714 15 Geelong
Princes Freeway Avalon Airport
End Western Ring Road
continues as West Gate Freeway
to Melbourne

See also[edit]

References[edit]