Melbourne’s West Gate Tunnel is announced
For a long time is has been apparent that Melbourne’s West Gate Bridge is filling up. The city’s answer to Sydney’s harbour bridge (ok, not quite) is the main road link from Melbourne’s Central Business District to the western suburbs. Melbourne’s western suburbs are currently experiencing a boom, with the populations swelling in places like Point Cook, Tarneit, Hoppers Crossing and Truganina. All of these will feed into a planned satellite city at Werribee. Things are looking tight on the West Gate Bridge, which was originally opened in 1978.
Enter the West Gate Tunnel, a second motorway to cross the Yarra/Maribyrnong Rivers and link Melbourne’s CBD with the west. Announced earlier this week, the West Gate Tunnel will connect the northwest of the city centre (Docklands and West Melbourne) to the western suburbs near Altona.
The proposed tollway is in three main sections;
- a duplicated West Gate Freeway from the Western Ring Road to near Spotswood
- a four-kilometre tunnel from near Spotswood to Footscray
- a network of roads from Footscray to the edge of the CBD near Docklands
Under the current proposal the West Gate Freeway would operate as express lanes from Altona to the West Gate Bridge, without entry or exit ramps. The existing entry and exit ramps would be adjusted to feed onto the new, parallel West Gate Tunnel lanes. A small feeder lane near the West Gate Bridge will allow the motorists joining after Altona to use the bridge if they wish.
The network of linking roads in the inner-north west is perhaps the most interesting part of the project. The tunnels will emerge near the docks in Seddon, then become an elevated expressway past the docks, above Footscray Road. From there, motorists will have the option to join CityLink northbound (towards the airport), or continue and join Spencer Street or Wurundjeri Way southbound.
Associated with the project is an elevated, partially-covered veloway which will allow cyclists to ride from Footscray to the city on a dedicated path. Around the tunnel portals in Seddon and Footscray an extensive new wetlands area is to be created.
The project is to begin construction next year and be open in 2022. For more information, go to the West Gate Tunnel website.
What do you think of the West Gate Tunnel project? Is it needed? Comment below!