Eastern Freeway (Melbourne)

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Eastern Freeway

Eastern Freeway and Melbourne skyline from Willsmere Park, Kew East.jpg
Aerial view of the Eastern Freeway looking towards Melbourne
Eastern Freeway (Melbourne) is located in Melbourne
West end
West end
East end
East end
General information
Length17.9 km (11 mi)[1]
Route number(s) (2008–present)
route number
  • Freeway Route 83 (1977–1989)
    (Clifton Hill–Doncaster)
  • State Route 83 (1989–2008)
    Entire route
Major junctions
West end Alexandra Parade
Collingwood, Melbourne
East end EastLink
Donvale, Melbourne
Major suburbs / townsBulleen, Doncaster, Box Hill North
Highway system

The Eastern Freeway[3] 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 and 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 continually the widest freeway in Melbourne, with 12 lanes altogether near the Hoddle Street and Alexandra Parade end.


Hoddle Street exit viewed from the east

The Eastern Freeway starts at its junction with Hoddle Street, as an eastern continuation of Alexandra Parade, with six lanes eastbound and three lanes westbound. Three more lanes (that provide an exit to Hoddle Street) join the westbound carriageway after it leaves the junction, and after a short distance both directions narrow from six to five lanes in each direction. The freeway narrows again to four lanes in each direction near Chandler Highway and Yarra Bend.

The freeway narrows once more 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 the EastLink toll road 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). In 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.

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.


Construction started on the first section of freeway between Hoddle Street, Clifton Hill and Bulleen Road Balwyn North in 1971 by the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW),[4] but the project and its construction was transferred to be under the direct responsibility of the Country Roads Board on 1 July 1974;[5][6] the section was opened in 1977.[6] The central reservation was designed to be wide enough to cater for a proposed Doncaster railway line between Hoddle Street and Bulleen Road,[4] bridges over it deliberately kept free of support pylons to allow for it. The bridges were designed by Melbourne engineer Bruce Day, with particular attention paid to the aesthetics of each bridge so that they fitted in their landscape, were related to one another, and also provided a variety and progression of design themes. 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.[7] The freeway was extended further south-east through Balwyn North from Bulleen Road to Doncaster Road and opened in 1982, with a major part being the undergrounding of 2.4 km of Koonung Creek in a precast reinforced concrete conduit to allow more room for the freeway.[8] The freeway was extended for the last time to Donvale in December 1997.[9]

The Eastern Freeway was signed as Freeway Route 83 between Alexandra Parade and Bulleen Road upon opening in 1977, then extended eastward to Doncaster Road when that section of freeway was opened in 1982; this was replaced by State Route 83 in 1989, itself extended eastward to Donvale when that section of freeway was opened in 1997. With Victoria's conversion to the newer alphanumeric system in the late 1990s, it was replaced by route M3 when EastLink opened in 2008.

The passing of the Road Management Act 2004[10] granted the responsibility of overall management and development of Victoria's major arterial roads to VicRoads: in 2004, VicRoads re-declared Eastern Freeway (Freeway #1830) from Gold Street in Collingwood to Springvale Road in Donvale.[11]

Timeline of construction[edit]

  • 1977 – Initial stage, 9 km from Alexandra Parade to Bulleen Road, opened December 1977 in three stages: Hoddle Street to Chandler Highway; Chandler Highway to Burke Road; Burke Road to Bulleen Road; total cost (including associated works in Hoddle Street) of A$84 million.[6]
  • 1982 – Second stage, extended 3km from Bulleen Road to Doncaster Road, opened 3 June 1982, by Minister for Transport, the Hon S M Crabb MP. Two lanes in each direction, plus emergency stopping lanes, at a cost of $24 million.[8]
  • 1997 – Third stage, extended 7km from Doncaster Road to Springvale Road, opened December 1997, at a cost of $250 million.[9]
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 and second stages were controversial and met much opposition due to the first being constructed through the middle of Yarra Bend Park and the second stage to Doncaster Road through parkland now named Koonung Creek Reserve.

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 Doncaster railway line to be constructed.[12]

One last 5km extension to the Eastern Freeway, to terminate at the intersection of Maroondah Highway and Mount Dandenong Road via the eastern half of the Ringwood Bypass in Ringwood, was planned in October 2000:[13] this would include tunnels 1.5km in length and a connection with the planned Scoresby Freeway (later EastLink), cost $326 million, and was scheduled for completion in mid-2005.[13] Instead, the Scoresby Freeway and the planned Eastern Freeway extension was merged into the Eastlink project,[14] and the remainder of the Eastern Freeway reservation was built into the western half of the Ringwood Bypass, which opened in July 2008. Eastlink connected the freeway to the Monash, Mornington Peninsula and Frankston Freeways.

1969 Melbourne Transportation Plan[edit]

Originally designated F-19 under the 1969 Melbourne Transportation Plan 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 to it being terminated at Hoddle Street.

April 2020 crash[edit]

On 23 April 2020, a drunk truck driver, Mohinder Singh, crashed his truck into a Porsche 911 and two police cars. Four police officers in the police cars were killed. The driver of the Porsche, Richard Pusey, was also drunk and was later arrested for running away from the scene and for filming the dying police officers, later pleading guilty to three charges,[15] and was jailed for 10 months.[16]

On 14 April 2021, truck driver Singh was sentenced to at least 22 years in prison by the Supreme Court of Victoria over the manslaughter of four police officers.[17]


Despite the inherent danger in small and large vehicles travelling at high speeds, the freeway is generally considered one of the safest in Melbourne, with minimal changes of elevation, a 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.[18] 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 (62 mph) limit, there were few safety barriers on the extremities of the road surface, leaving nothing between the cars and the trees on the road shoulder. Flexible barriers were installed along lengths of the freeway in an attempt to improve safety. These measures reduced the relative risk of casualty crashes by approximately 75 percent.[19]

Future Upgrades (North East Link)[edit]

The Eastern Freeway viewed from Bulleen Road. The North East link will terminate at this location.

The Eastern Freeway is one of the primary freeways feeding into the CBD, and with hundreds of commuters in the eastern suburbs relying on this Freeway to access the CBD, the freeway is often congested in peak hour and on weekends. With the construction of the North East Link tunnels (which end at the Eastern Freeway near Bulleen Road) scheduled to be complete in 2027/2028, this is anticipated to add up to 110,000 extra vehicles to the Eastern Freeway each day, with the Eastern Freeway servicing both radial city-bound and ring road traffic. As part of the North East Link project, the entire Eastern Freeway will be upgraded from Hoddle Street to Springvale Road, with 45km of lanes to be added and 6 express lanes to be added between Middleborough Road and Chandler Highway. The first section to be upgraded between Burke Road and Tram Road will begin construction in 2024 with the rest following in 2025. The upgrade is anticipated to be completed by 2027/2028, to coincide with the opening of the tunnels.[20]

Western extension (East West Link)[edit]

The Eastern Freeway has no connecting freeways at its western end in Clifton Hill. As a result, traffic from the Eastern Freeway is released westward along Alexandra Parade and north–south along Hoddle Street. There have been proposals to extend the freeway further west to connect with the CityLink network and ultimately to the Western Ring Road at Sunshine West, but none have been constructed to date.[21]

On 1 March 2007, the Victorian Government announced a study linking the major freeways conducted by international transport expert Sir Rod Eddington. The Eddington Transport Report was released in early 2008 and outlined 20 main recommendations for the city, including a tunnel from the Eastern Freeway to CityLink under Royal Park.[22] The newly elected state Liberal government announced in 2013 that they would commence construction of the tunnel. This announcement sparked heated public debate and protests both in favour[23] and against[24] the proposal until the newly elected Labor government renounced the contracts signed by the previous government in 2015 and scrapped the project.[25]

One aspect of the East West Link proposal was to widen the Eastern Freeway between Hoddle Street and Tram Road in Doncaster.[26][27] While the exact details of the proposal were not released before the project was abandoned, this was opposed by residents and councils along its length.[28][29]

Exits and interchanges[edit]

YarraCollingwoodClifton Hill boundary0.00.0 Alexandra Parade (State Route 83 west) – Carlton, ParkvilleWestern freeway terminus: continues west as Alexandra Parade
CollingwoodAbbotsfordClifton Hill tripoint0.350.22 Hoddle Street (Metro Route 29) - City, Richmond, Clifton Hill
BoroondaraKew3.52.2 Chandler Highway (Metro Route 21) – Kew, Alphington
Kew EastBalwyn North boundary6.84.2 Burke Road (Metro Route 17) – Heidelberg, CamberwellEastbound exit and westbound entrance only
Balwyn North8.25.1North East Link – GreensboroughUnder construction
Bulleen Road (Metro Route 42 south) – Balwyn North
Bulleen Road (Metro Route 52 north) – Bulleen
Thompsons Road (Metro Route 42 north-east) – Templestowe
Eastbound entrance via Thompsons Road
11.06.8 Doncaster Road (Metro Route 36) – Balwyn North, Doncaster
ManninghamWhitehorse boundaryMont Albert NorthDoncasterBox Hill North tripoint12.67.8Elgar Road – Doncaster, BurwoodEastbound exit and westbound entrance only
Doncaster–Box Hill North boundary13.38.3 Tram Road (Metro Route 47 north) – Doncaster
Station Street (State Route 47 south) – Box Hill
Westbound exit and eastbound entrance only
Box Hill North–Blackburn North boundary14.79.1 Middleborough Road (Metro Route 23 south) – Mount Waverley
Wetherby Road (State Route 23 north) – Templestowe
Blackburn North16.310.1 Blackburn Road (Metro Route 13 north) – Warrandyte
Surrey Road (Metro Route 13 south) – Blackburn
Eastbound exit and westbound entrance only
NunawadingDonvale boundary17.911.1 Springvale Road (Metro Route 40) – Donvale, NunawadingSingle point urban interchange
EastLink (M3 east) – Ringwood, FrankstonEastern freeway terminus, continues east as EastLink

Freeway map[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Google (18 December 2021). "Eastern Freeway" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 18 December 2021.
  2. ^ Route Numbering History, Main Roads Victoria. Retrieved 4 September 2013.[self-published source]
  3. ^ M3 Eastern Freeway – Melbourne's gateway to the east, Main Roads Victoria. Retrieved 4 September 2013.[self-published source]
  4. ^ a b "Country Roads Board Victoria. Sixty-Second Annual Report: for the year ended 30 June 1975". Country Roads Board of Victoria. Melbourne: Victorian Government Library Service. 3 November 1975. p. 5.
  5. ^ "Country Roads Board Victoria. Sixty-First Annual Report: for the year ended 30 June 1974". Country Roads Board of Victoria. Melbourne: Victorian Government Library Service. 1 November 1974. p. 4.
  6. ^ a b c "Country Roads Board Victoria. Sixty-Fifth Annual Report: for the year ended 30 June 1978". Country Roads Board of Victoria. Melbourne: Victorian Government Library Service. 29 September 1978. pp. 7, 15.
  7. ^ Stephen Cauchi (February 1998). "Whatever Happened to the Proposed Railway to Doncaster East". Newsrail. Vol. 26, no. 2. Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division). pp. 40–44.
  8. ^ a b "Country Roads Board Victoria. Sixty-Ninth Annual Report: for the year ended 30 June 1982". Country Roads Board of Victoria. Melbourne: Victorian Government Library Service. 30 September 1982. p. 11.
  9. ^ a b "VicRoads Annual Report 1997-98". VicRoads. Melbourne: Victorian Government Library Service. 31 August 1998. p. 31.
  10. ^ State Government of Victoria. "Road Management Act 2004" (PDF). Government of Victoria. Archived (PDF) from the original on 19 October 2021. Retrieved 19 October 2021.
  11. ^ a b VicRoads. "VicRoads – Register of Public Roads (Part A) 2015" (PDF). Government of Victoria. p. 783. Archived from the original on 1 May 2020. Retrieved 19 October 2021.
  12. ^ Newman, Peter (12 November 2005). "How to fix Melbourne's woes". The Age. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  13. ^ a b "VicRoads Annual Report 2000-01". VicRoads. Melbourne: Victorian Government Library Service. 26 September 2001. p. 30.
  14. ^ "VicRoads Annual Report 2003-04". VicRoads. Melbourne: Victorian Government Library Service. 5 October 2004. p. 26.
  15. ^ "Porsche driver pleads guilty to three charges relating to fatal Eastern Freeway crash". Nine News. 10 March 2021. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  16. ^ "Richard Pusey sentenced for filming dying police officers after Eastern Freeway crash". ABC News. 28 April 2021. Retrieved 18 December 2021.
  17. ^ "Eastern Freeway truck driver Mohinder Singh jailed for deaths of four police officers". NewsComAu. 13 April 2021. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  18. ^ Rolfe, Peter (10 October 2009). "Four dead on Victorian roads". Herald Sun. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  19. ^ Candappa, Nimmi; D'E lia, Angelo; Corben, Bruce; Newstead, Stuart. "Evaluation of the Effectiveness of flexible barriers on Victorian roads" (PDF). Monash University Accident Research Centre. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  20. ^ "Eastern Freeway Upgrades - North East Link Program". Archived from the original on 20 December 2021.
  21. ^ Dubecki, Larissa (14 August 2003). "Tunnel under Royal Park to link freeways shelved". The Age. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  22. ^ Millar, Royce; Lucas, Clay; Rood, David; Morton, Adam (3 April 2008). "$18 billion to link east and west". The Age. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  23. ^ Stanton, Kate (8 August 2015). "East West Link protesters call for road to be built". The Age. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  24. ^ "Road protesters confront police over East West Link drilling". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 9 January 2014. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  25. ^ Newman, Peter (3 December 2014). "The East-West Link is dead – a victory for 21st-century thinking". The Conversation. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  26. ^ "East West Link Enabling Works – Attachment D" (PDF). Victorian Government. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  27. ^ Campbell, James (30 June 2013). "State Government reveals plans to widen the Eastern Fwy to make traffic-busting superlink". Herald Sun. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
  28. ^ "East West Link submission" (PDF). Letter to. City of Boroondara. 12 December 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 October 2016. Retrieved 12 July 2016.{{cite press release}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  29. ^ "Traffic Issues". Friends of Banyule. Retrieved 12 July 2016.