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West Gate Freeway - the light at the end of the tunnel

02 Oct 2009

West Gate Freeway - the light at the end of the tunnel Image

It won’t be too long before some of the major works to the West Gate Freeway and around the Montague St intersection are open to the driving public, but ongoing works will continue to cause some disruptions to freeway traffic in the months ahead.

The first two weekends in October will see significant traffic switches take place with new exit and access ramps, including the Montague Street intersection, and road areas made available in both directions on the freeway (see information box).

Major changes include the West Gate’s new freeway design known as “separation by destination”. According the Westgate Freeway Alliance, this means that drivers will have “the use of dedicated lanes on the freeway”, designed to improve traffic flows and safety, drivers will have to decide where they want to go and stick to it, with little of no opportunity to merge and weave.

Project Director Andrew Williams said: “With separation by destination we are untangling the mess. For example, it will delineate exits between Montague Street and Lorimer Street. Up until now you’ve had one exit for two streets, now it will be clearly separated.”

“In some cases you will need to take an exit ramp well ahead of your actual destination point. New signage will be installed to advise drivers of the new lane layout. Drivers will now look at a sign, make a decision and stick to it.”

Also new will be the application of some major urban design principles across the entire M1 upgrade that, among other things, aim to “minimise visual clutter” and develop “a consistency of architectural language”.

One example is the Montague Street portal. Montague Street will have multiple tiers of bridges passing over it. To mark the significance of this area, two metal-clad portal structures are now under construction – 32 metres high, 19 metres in length, 3.5 metres wide with a 11x25m ellipse shaped hole allowing the elevated ramps to pass through them.

At the junction between the Bolte Bridge off-ramps and the West Gate Freeway two elongated triangular blocks will be placed under the new ramp – these will reflect in colour and design the existing features near Flemington Road.

Including the opening of a number of ramps during October, night and weekend works will take place over the next couple of months to re-asphalt the entire freeway. The M1 upgrade will see the West Gate Bridge strengthened, to allow for an extra lane each way and the installation of permanent safety barriers.

Mr Williams said: “The works are going to continue to be disruptive for the next few months, but we’d like to thank everyone for their patience. We have a good working relationship with Yarra’s Edge building managers and we try to give at least of week’s notice of works with letterbox drops, which they help us with.”

Improvements do not just include ones for drivers. Pedestrian and bicycle access will also be upgraded. Mr Williams said: “We have worked with Bicycle Victoria to improve the overall amenity for both walkers and riders.”

 

Weekend, October 2-4:

  • Along with the closure of the access route from Kings Way to Montague Street and the east-bound ramp at Power Street, the following new ramps will open:
  • A west-bound entry ramp at Kings Way heading to the West Gate Bridge, Bolte Bridge or Todd Road;
  • A west-bound ramp for drivers who have come though the Domain Tunnel and are heading to the Bolte Bridge or Todd Road;
  • A west-bound entry ramp at Montague Street for drivers heading to the Bolte Bridge or Todd Road;
  • An east-bound ramp at Montague Street heading to Power Street or the Burnley Tunnel (replaces the ramp demolished in 2008); and
  • A new connection to the east-bound entry ramp at Kings Way, accessible from City Road, for drivers heading to the Burnley Tunnel.

Weekend, October 9-11:

  • Intensive construction work will take place over this weekend. When finished, the following routes will open:
  • New east-bound ramp from Bolte Bridge for drivers heading to Power Street or the CityLink tunnels;
  • Drivers coming off the Bolte Bridge heading for Lorimer Street or Kings Way will take the existing east-bound Bolte Bridge ramp to the West Gate Freeway, however new barriers will be in place to separate traffic coming from the West Gate Bridge; and
  • New ramp over Montague Street for drivers heading to Kings Way.

For more information about West Gate Freeway works visit: http://www.mcwupgrade.com.au

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