Big Build to cause severe disruption in Melbourne over summer

Victorians are being warned that roadworks across Melbourne over summer will cause delays of more than 90 minutes on popular travel routes, including the West Gate Bridge, Domain Tunnel, Monash Freeway and in the CBD.

The state government’s Big Build project has been pitched as a transformation of the road and rail network, but the planned works will cause months of disruptions.

Maintenance work on the West Gate Bridge will start on Boxing Day, leaving only one outbound lane open and closing four lanes until January 4. Drivers are being advised to detour early.

Maribyrnong Truck Action Group president Martin Wurt said the group understood the importance of maintenance on the bridge but they were concerned truck drivers would use inner-west roads to avoid congestion.

“It’s definitely frustrating and obviously, during maintenance like this and having summer holidays with people off from work, residents are going to experience more noise and pollution,” he said of the trucks.

He said trucks belonged on the West Gate Bridge or the under-construction West Gate Tunnel not local roads.

The campaigner said their group wanted to see trucks adhere to existing curfews.

Department of Transport spokesman Chris Miller said delays could exceed 90 minutes and urged people to plan ahead, particularly if they intended to go to the airport.

“You can’t make last-minute decisions, you can’t get caught in a traffic jam because there may be nowhere to go. So, we’d like people to really think about that if they’ve got a flight planned between Boxing Day and the fourth of January,” he said on ABC Radio.

And City Loop upgrades will mean no trains are operating through the loop from January 2 to January 15. Instead, trains will run through Southern Cross and Flinders Street stations.

Minister for Public Transport Ben Carroll said: “Whether you’re travelling by rail or road, if you’re heading into Melbourne, or just passing through over the next few months, it’s essential you plan ahead to avoid delays.”

The government said the City Loop upgrades to smoke detection, extraction and sprinkler systems would help reduce delays in future.

“The works on the City Loop will help better manage potential emergency situations in the underground rail system, including allowing crews to respond quicker to intruders – further minimising and reducing delays to the network,” it said in a statement.

Regional train works will disrupt the Gippsland, Bendigo, Echuca and Swan Hill services; buses will replace trains along those routes from January to early March.

In Melbourne, Dynon Road has been closed in both directions from Dryburgh Street to the Dynon Road inbound exit ramp from CityLink. It will reopen on December 22.

The Big Build involves 165 major road and rail projects, including the Metro Tunnel, the West Gate Tunnel, the North East Link, Melbourne Airport Rail and the Suburban Rail Loop.

There will also be upgrades to every regional passenger line in Victoria, and the removal of 110 level crossings across Melbourne by 2030.

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