A freeway link

The upgrade of the Western Freeway within the City of Melton to an urban freeway standard is a key safety priority.  

Issues

The Western Freeway is the major road between Melbourne and Adelaide, providing  for major freight transport both interstate and regionally. It carries the second most freight  of any national highway, yet the Melton section of this major road is clearly sub-standard.   

The section of the Western Freeway between Caroline Springs and the Melton township  

(within the City of Melton), is a major transport corridor for residents to access education, employment and leisure activities.  

This section of the freeway contains key roads with direct access to it, which require:

  • an interchange at Mt Cottrell Road 
  • an overpass at Paynes Road, and 
  • removal of at grade access to the freeway.

The section of the freeway within the West Melton area requires improved connections for:

  • an interchange at Harkness Road
  • access ramps at Bulmans Road, and 
  • a pedestrian overpass bridge at Arnolds Creek.

Melton City Council considers the lack of interchanges and overpasses in this section  of the Western Freeway present a significant safety risk to all road users. 

Rationale

More than 55,000 vehicles per day travel on  the Western Freeway within the City of Melton.

The township of Melton is projected to have  a population of 72,596 by 2026. More than  80 per cent of residents leave the municipality  for work, yet Melton township only has two interchanges to access the Western Freeway. 

RACV in their 2017 Victorian State budget submission identified a backlog of over 150 projects in the outer suburbs, worth over $7 billion. It noted that municipalities like the City of Melton are poorly supported even though they serviced areas of the city.

With projected growth within the catchment  of the Western Freeway set to soar to over 400,000 people, exceeding the current population of Canberra, this situation is only going to get worse, not only for City of Melton residents but it will have a detrimental impact on freight movements across the state.

The existing traffic volumes on the Western Freeway within the City of Melton, combined with the forecast population growth expected in this growth corridor, make the removal of at grade intersections a key safety priority for the City of Melton. 

Opportunities

In addition to the immediate safety benefits  of removing at grade crossings on a four lane national freeway carrying 55,000 vehicles  per day, with speed limits between 90 and  110 km/h, this project:

  • completes the creation of a freeway-standard road between Melbourne and Ballarat, and 
  • supports development of existing and planned communities in the Western Growth Corridor, enabling them to safely access opportunities both within and outside the City of Melton.

Commissioned a decade ago, a consultant report (SKM) into the economics of upgrading the Western Freeway returned a Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR) of 2.2, or $2.20 worth of benefits for every dollar invested. Today, it is anticipated that the BCR would remain positive, since population, traffic and economic growth has outstripped even the most optimistic of estimates. 

Key priority

Council calls on both the State and Federal Governments to fund the upgrade of the Western Freeway within the City of Melton  to an urban freeway standard. Through the construction of overpasses and interchanges, road safety within this section of the Western Freeway will be greatly enhanced, for the benefit of both existing road users and future populations within the fast growing Western Growth Corridor.