Freeways, freeways, everywhere

Via Google’s archive of The Age, I found this, the 1969 freeway plan for Melbourne, with 1974 modifications (including a number of cuts).

1974: Proposed Melbourne freeways

It’s a little bit stylised, but according to the article, the plan was deliberately vague about which inner-suburban areas were to be demolished.

A monstrous plan, you might think. Freeways everywhere! But this didn’t all get built though, did it?

Oh yes it did. Well, most of it did — if not as freeways, then as road widening schemes (which also results in lots of houses being demolished, though not quite as many).

The northern section of the F2 got built as the Hume Freeway. It doesn’t extend down through Coburg, Clifton Hill and Richmond, but Hoddle Street has been steadily widened, and is Melbourne’s best-known traffic sewer, and they’re now talking about the possibility of grade-separating it, turning it into a pseudo-freeway.

I suspect the southern section of the F2 was intended to be Punt Road/Nepean Highway/South Road. Since then, much of that has been widened to 8 lanes plus service lanes, and as I recall, VicRoads still owns a row of houses along Punt Road for future widening. The outer-SE section is the suspiciously freeway-like South Road extension, and the Dingley Arterial, part of which is now under construction.

The F3 is the Western Ring Road.

F4 probably would have gone along Bell Street, much of which is now 6 lanes.

Part of the F5 has been built as the Northern Ring Road.

The northern part of the F6 hasn’t happened. The southern section is the Mornington Peninsula Freeway, and the Peninsula Link project (which last week bulldozed its way through part of the heritage-listed Westerfields estate).

The northern part of the F7 (or the F18) is still on the drawing board as the so-called “missing link”, to go through the Banyule Flats. (It’s “missing” because they went and built the rest of it, knowing that bit would be “missing”). The southern section would, I think, have included the very freeway-like Westall Road Extension.

The outer-eastern part of the F9 is the Healesville freeway, which was never built, but is still shown in the Melways as a proposed freeway launching itself from Springvale Road in Forest Hill, with a massive interchange with Eastlink in Wantirna. The inner section is the Citylink Burnley and Domain tunnels, as well as the Westgate Freeway.

The proposed freeway to remove the bottleneck created by the previous proposed freeway...The F12 looks to have been an upgrade of the Western Highway, but instead has morphed into the Deer Park bypass. The inner section was supposedly scrapped, but is back on the drawing board as “Westlink”, with today’s Age noting that it is the first stage of a larger road project first proposed by Sir Rod Eddington, that would ultimately join CityLink to the Eastern Freeway… which in turn will add to the pressure to build the “missing link”.

The F14 is the Tullamarine Freeway and Citylink in the northwest, and the Monash Freeway in the south. The middle bit would reflect the traffic sewer that is Kingsway, Queensway and Dandenong Road.

The F18 is the Greensborough Bypass/Highway.

The F19 is the Eastern Freeway, even including the little extra bit at the eastern end, the Ringwood bypass.

The F35 is Eastlink.

The F38 is the South Gippsland Freeway.

(Did I miss any? Did I mis-read the map?)

The article talks about a memo from then Country Roads Board boss Robert Donaldson, which notes:

…I believe we should go quietly on freeway matters at the moment, particularly inner area freeways.

And it talks about building all the outer-suburban ones, with the hope that:

they will create a public appetite for high-capacity roads to take traffic through inner-areas.

And that’s what they’ve done: built most of the outer-suburban freeways, and some of the inner ones, and the others have been done as road widening, so they’ve ended up as wide as freeways (but without the huge grade-separated interchanges, for the most part).

And after all this road building, there’s nary a traffic jam to be seen.

Oh, wait…

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

21 replies on “Freeways, freeways, everywhere”

I take offence to Kingsway, Queensway and Dandenong Rd being called a traffic sewer! I live in Ormond and drive to work in the Docklands once or twice a month. Dandenong Rd generally flows very well but hits a bottleneck about Lakeside Drv and is always a crawl to at least Albert Rd, and usually the Westgate. Even when working near the NE part of the CBD I chose this route (cutting across on Lonsdale) as it was still so much better than the Punt Rd alternative. This route also flows pretty well on the way home too.

But Punt Rd! Oh horrible, horrible Punt Rd!!! (I do have another name for it that is not exactly socially acceptable!) Doesn’t matter what time of day, week or year, once I turn off St Kilda Rd until just after the MCG it is awful! One day recently it took me an hour to get from Ormond (via Nepean Hwy) just to the MCG! (and another 45 to get to Thornbury, most of it spent on Hoddle – on a weekend!!!). Strangely, I find once it becomes Hoddle St that the extra lanes make the traffic flow a lot better. That said, when going from north to south, the whole of it is usually rubbish. In future I will detour via Kew…

The answer is … the stuff that got built was largely the stuff that was reserved for before the 1969 plan. The dotted lines tell the story unlike another version of the plan I’ve seen from the same author! As I have stated before I live in the corner of the F14 and F35 and have no problem with it whatsoever!!

The 1969 plan released extra stuff that was not exactly reserved, i.e.

• The F7 was not really reserved for, except for the Southern section which had enough room for an at grade arterial (Westall Road) plus the narrow reservation through to the Monash (F14) and north through to the Tally Ho park. Buggered if I know what was to happen past that …

• Greensborough Freeway (F18) is being resurrected as North East Link with probably a different southern route as it never really existed in the first place

• The Scoresby Freeway (F35) was reserved from Ringwood to the Dingley Freeway (F2) in the early 60s with the remainder of the reservation to Frankston set in the 70s (with Frankston Fwy built in the early 70s on the Wells Rd Bypass)

• F5 Reserved as the Western Ring Road and Later joined to the F3. The weird dogleg in the alignment owing to the electricity reservation being too narrow at the northern end of the F3. The inner part of the F5 was to deviate via Steele Creek and through the Commonwealth explosives factory to another non-existant reservation though Ashley Street (possibly)

• Mulgrave (Monash) Freeway (F14) to Warrigal Road reserved in the 50s onwards, starting from the wide electricity reservation. The 1969 plan has it connecting to the short freeway under St Kilda Junction (opened 1968) via a nonexistent reservation (possibly Waverley Road) and freeway converted Dandenong Road. From the junction I guess it went somewhere through the back of Albert Park to the Graham Street interchange with the Lower Yarra Freeway (Westgate, F9) to what is now Citylink and Tullamarine Freeways. Interesting in the 1980s both the Mulgrave and Tullamarine Freeways had the F81 route shield for this reason!!

• Healesville Freeway (F9) still reserved from Springvale Road to Lilydale. It was reserved to the end of Riversdale Road before this part was sold off in the early 80s. The 1969 plan has it turning south along Gardiners Creek, crossing the Burwood Hwy before passing through a non existent reservation along Ashburton Creek to the what was South Eastern Freeway at Burke Road

• F12 – don’t know what exactly the original reservation was but it ended up connecting to the F2 via the old Inner Circle Line

• F6 – an alternate northern terminus was provided to the Dingley Fwy (F2) with the original not having a reservation. It looks like East Boundary Road – Murrumbeena Road before definitely becoming the Monash Fwy – Burke Rd – Outer Circle Railway – Chandler Hwy before meandering along Darebin Creek. Note the ghost ramp stubs still existing at the Eastern-Chandler interchange allowed for this.

• F1 – Innder city bypass unreserved and never built (and not even shown there)

• F4 – Bell Banksia Street Fwy not built apart from the Bell Banksia Link

• F2 Hume Fwy was to go along Merri Creek to the Eastern Fwy. this was reserved and progressively abandoned past Bell Street and back to the Ring Road. Not sure if the southern bit included the Nepean Hwy but ultimately that was widened in the 80s by demolition of many properties.

• F2 – Dingley Freeway from South Road to South Gippsland Fwy was reserved in the 1950s. the evidence of this can be seen in old Melway directories with the Hoyts Oakleigh Drive In having what looks like a chunk taken out (it was like that when it opened) allowing for the road reservation . Opening of the drive in was in 1955!! As someone who has horses and travels to Cranbourne and Warragul – I’m still waiting for it!!

Daniel, question- what do you have against freeways? I’m not trying to stir you or bait you or anything like that, I just can’t understand your hatred of cars and freeways. Look, I used to catch public transport a decade ago, but once I started driving, I never looked back! Personally, I can’t stand using PT, BUT, I never begrudge anyone else using it! Indeed, it is a vital part of our city’s infrastructure, and that is why I support a strong and viable PT system- I’m with you on that! But, every time you go off on cars and freeways, it really annoys me! Look, you may not want to drive around in the city, but what do you have against others wanting to do so easily!

Andrew S mentioned the horses, indeed we both go to the trots together- in the last 2 months we’ve been to Ballarat, Kilmore, Cranbourne, all by car! Without freeways, our trips would have taken much longer! Why do you wish to deny us that freedom? Just getting around the city in general, freeways are a huge help. Do they solve peak-hour traffic problems- not exactly, but they do do something! What would be your solution then- no roads at all? Our city won’t function at its best with just one of the two things at its peak- a great freeway system is of little consequence without a decent PT system, and vice versa!

My point is, I’m not against you lobbying for better PT- more power to you, we need the improvements! But please, don’t think that everyone’s transport needs are met by travelling radially into the city within 30kms of the centre- we all have different needs! Please Daniel, don’t take this offensively, the sooner you get over your aversion to freeways, the better off you’ll be, and it may even help your cause somewhat.

@Liz, the term traffic sewer doesn’t to my mind describe whether or not it flows well. It’s describing a place with a lot of traffic that’s not pleasant to be around.

@Andrew S, thanks!

@Andrew V, don’t go down the “What would be your solution then- no roads at all?” argument. That’s ridiculous.

My view is simply that cars are not an efficient way of moving large numbers of people.

You are right that PT is often less convenient than driving. That’s precisely because for decades the bulk of the money has been directed at trying to make it easier to drive. The inevitable result is a road system that only allows free movement when few others are using it, and a PT system that doesn’t work for a lot of trips.

Conservatives (not necessarily yourself) often decry public transport as “social engineering”, and want all the transport money spent on roads instead. But pouring taxpayer funds into roads, neglecting PT and thus ensuring that most people have to drive is no less “social engineering” — and has huge implications for city liveability, oil dependency, and pollution.

Growing up in Coburg in the early 70’s I clearly remember all the houses that were knocked down along Bell Street opposite the cemetery to make way for the ‘freeway’. Well over 30 houses accquired, knocked down with families and part of our community dislocated.

Then there was just vacant idle land for years – nearly two decades.

“My view is simply that cars are not an efficient way of moving large numbers of people.”

I’d say, thats a wrong view. Cars take people where they want to go. Public transport takes people where the public transport wants to go.

Public transport can only compete where large numbers of people all want to go from and to the same place at the same time.

Cars take people where they want to go, as long as there’s roads to get there and parking at the destination. Large numbers of cars can only take people where there are large capacity roads (and even then they get clogged, because they are inherently inefficient) and huge amounts of land for parking.

Public transport not taking people where they want to go, when they want to go there, is an indication of its failure in the city you’re travelling in (and much of Melbourne falls into that category). There are cities (and regional areas in Europe) where it does provide the options people want, with frequent, properly connecting “anywhere to anywhere” service.

Cars can only compete with other transport modes because they are massively subsidised through roads, parking, and do not contribute to the cost of their noise, air pollution, emissions, and associated medical and policing costs — to the tune of at least $15 billion per year.

Look, I don’t decry PT as social engineering- I want a good system, but I want decent roads as well! I would say the key would be to build the most vital roads and rail lines, as well as improving bus services, so that we all have more choices- it’s just a matter of finding the right balance! I just think, and this indeed is only my opinion, that you don’t do your cause much justice by constantly bagging freeways! I admire your passion and advocacy for PT, just don’t let your opposition to freeways ruin your good work- understand many of us have different needs!

I’m with Daniel on this one. I don’t think he’s ever indicated he’s anti-roads or anti-freeway; just that these infrastructure components are not always the best infrastructure components for certain circumstances. At present, however, they tend to be the default choice regardless of actual suitability for task, and can lead to quite expensive problems later (e.g. road widening (M1 expansion), moving bottlenecks, and the like). Changing the mindset so that transport proposals properly examine whether road expansion will deliver greater movement of people and goods, over say creating a dedicated transit lane on an existing road (which can carry many more people/hour than a vehicle lane carrying single occupant cars) at far less cost, is something we should be aiming for. If the answer is the road expansion, ok, but I suspect there’s a lot of capacity we could use more efficiently for people movement if we considered people, not cars. And that means less taxes for everyone, since it’s mostly our taxes that pay for this kind of infrastructure.

Max Lay wrote the corporate history of the Victorian CRB (Country Roads Board) in which he explicitly stated that the CRB had a policy in the 50s and 60s of building any sections of freeway that they could. It didn’t matter how silly, or how bad the interfaces at the end were to the existing road network. They knew that the resulting congestion at the ends of the freeways would result in pressure on the government to extend the freeways, and that eventually they would get built.

Re Punt Road. A friend was looking at buying a flat in a block on the east side of Punt Road. We went along to the auction for moral support, and I (as is my wont) perused the Section 32. That side of Punt Road has a reservation warning purchasers that the property could be resumed for road purposes – the eventual road would about twice the width it currently is. It explained, to me, why there were so many run down houses on the east side of Punt Road. How much money would you put into a property that might, one day, be compulsorily acquired?

Combining the two thoughts… increasing the capacity of Hoddle St will increase the pressure on ‘improving’ Punt Road. My worst case scenario for my friend was that the government announced a road improvement for Punt Road making his flat unsaleable until the government purchased it.

I was quite glad my friend didn’t win the auction :-)

Incidentally, anyone interested in the development of Melbourne’s road network (including the ‘improvements’ discussed in this thread) should read ‘Melbourne Miles – The story of Melbourne’s Roads’, again by Max Lay.

(Max Lay, in case you are wondering is a civil engineer. He was Executive Director of the Australian Road Research Board 1975-88, a director in VicRoads 1988-96 (including director of major projects), head of the Independant Reviewer of the Melbourne City Link 1996-2003. He’s also been a director of the RACV since 1986, and is a director of ConnectEast. I don’t agree with his obvious keeness on roads, but I would not dispute his knowledge about roads and policy in Melbourne :-)

Andrew, I’ve been very keen to get a copy of that book and read a few details of the history of development and fill in the gaps of my knowledge on the matter. Interesting the first ‘freeway’ they built (excluding Kingsway here) was the bit of the South Eastern Freeway from Punt Road to Burnley in 1962 …

I believe the criticism at the time was that ‘it started in nowhere and ended in chaos’!!

Interesting to note that the outer freeways were built as town bypasses by the CRB but the more controversial inner freeways were built by the MMBW (SE Fwy, St Kilda Junction, inner section of Tullamarine Fwy). The different style bridge barriers, presence of (originally orange fluro) street lighting are testimony to this. Another book released was ‘Vital Connections – Melbourne and its Board of Works 1891 – 1991’ by Tony Dingle and Carolyn Rasmussen of which there is a copy next to my desk at work!!

As a outer suburban resident (and civil engineer too!!) I’m definitely not anti freeway as others in this forum, but an also frustrated by black holes and one-dimensionality of our rail system which has changed little since the 1920s electrification scheme. Funny I thought Max Lay would know better about tolls on a cross-town route not really being a winner!!

To me it looks like the F7 Looks like it would have gone through Eltham, crossing the River at Fitzsimons Lane and followed Williamsons Road To Doncaster and then through Station street perhaps to Westall Road?

Funny how the then scrapped Banyule Flats (the scrapped extension south of the F18) route is back on the table. As a local I can say it will be both a blessing and a curse.

Also while the F8 as shown on that map never went ahead, the natural continuation of it north of the Ring Road (in the Melway it is shown as the E8 ) is forming part of the new outer ring road. Incidentally I believe I read that the outer ring road is being designed with provision for a rail line in the median. I’ll beleive it when I see it.

Andrew V, we’ve just had to reject a job because of inadequate public transport (the applicant is too young for a licence).

I don’t hear anyone having to reject a job because of inadequate roads.

In other news (Daniel), we’ve just got a letter from our MP saying VicRoads don’t want the Healesville Freeway anymore – the MP is trying to keep the reservation in community hands.

That could actually be counter-productive, if I were the MP, I’d let specific bits of it be released for housing, and keep the rest for the community. That way the housing will stop the freeway from ever being built. The sneaky plan to thwart sneaky plans!

Re the Healesville Freeway … Can’t say I’m too thrilled about the existing alternative when carting a horse to Yarra Glen (one of the least convenient racetracks to go to due to its non-proximity to freeways, but was a lot worse pre-Eastlink). The typical trip involves those bloody red lights half way up the hill at Chirnside Park and the car has its ring hanging out with the horse kicking in the back!!.

Anyway my whinging aside I think the comment you are referring to from your MP refers to the part of reservation between Eastlink and Springvale Road which they no longer want. the remainder I belive is to remain a reservation to Lilydale. The article from The Age yesterday referred to this map which seems to confirm the move (see the pdf link from Jackaroo above) with a never-never connection to the current Ring Road and Maroonhah Hwy

On the PT front it is worth noting I am in St Kilda Road near the junction and many here are very much pro Melbourne Metro due to the lack of direct train access here (no, slowly trundling down the length of St Kilda Road by tram is not a convenient option on top of the trip from the outer E or SE suburbs of up to an hour). Currently there are a few second-rate options connecting with all stopper trains only from Caulfield or having to backtrack to Prahran Station and many drive where they can, despite only being around 5km from Flinders Street Station. However I’m not waiting with baited breath for anything to be done!!

@Andrew S, with respect, we shouldn’t be building freeways because a handful of people need to move horses around by road.

I assume you are aware that Melbourne Metro stage 1 will only go to Domain. There is doubt over whether stage 2 will reach St Kilda Junction, as it’s been pointed out the density isn’t there (and may never be there) along Dandenong or Balaclava Roads to support the cost — so it may go via Toorak or Commercial Rds instead to reach the Caulfield lines. (Bearing in mind neither stage is funded yet.)

There’s a LOT more they could do to speed up the trams along St Kilda Road. Studies have shown time wasted at traffic lights alone can account for 30% of the total travel time.

On my experience it can be 20 – 25 minutes to traverse that 5km (tram speed limit 30km/h along a dedicated tram lane) with a major problem being that trams sit at the Domain interchange like the proverbial stale bottle.

@Andrew S, you’re one of the very few people that SHOULD get a 4WD. Get something decent – don’t get a toy. Or you could hire one whenever you need one.

Interesting the comment about the reservation from Eastlink to Lilydale. That MP of mine should learn to tell the complete story. Maybe I’ll write that on the response.

The supposed “hatred” of cars and roads may just be an opinion that seems overly bent against non-PT transport because all planning and funding is so biased in favour of roads. It would be nice if PT shared priority with road transport in the government mindset, rather than being a rather poor third cousin. You only need to look at the spending and major projects for cars/trucks vs. rail/light rail over the last decade around Melbourne, other capital cities and rural regions to see the blatant disregard government has for PT.

Even those who love their car and driving can surely see the benefit in pumping money and better planning into PT and getting rid of half of those people competing for road space with you freeway-philes.

I myself am not a big user of PT, but if there were at least the option to use it “to go where I want to go” whenever I wanted to, I would probably use it more often.

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