Home World Business Widening of Melbourne’s CityLink toll road to open three months early

Widening of Melbourne’s CityLink toll road to open three months early

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Transurban expects the widening of Melbourne’s CityLink toll road to be completed in late October, allowing motorists to use the extra lanes three months earlier than planned.

Australia’s largest toll road operator said some night work would continue on the widening project until the end of the year but all lanes of CityLink would be open during peak periods by the end of this month.

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The $1.3 billion CityLink-Tull widening project includes almost 30 kilometres of new lanes in both directions of the CityLink between Bulla Road and the West Gate Freeway.

Transurban said the project would boost the roadway’s capacity by 30 per cent and result in travel time savings of up to 17 minutes for motorists during the busiest periods.

The direct route between the central city and Melbourne Airport carries more than 210,000 vehicles a day on some sections, making it one of the city’s busiest transport corridors.

Work on VicRoads’ section of the road corridor between Bulla Road and Melbourne Airport to the north will continue through next year.

Using its preferred metric, Transurban said proportional revenue from its toll roads in Australia and the US surged by more than 11 per cent to $589 million in the three months to September, compared with the same period a year earlier.

The company has a stranglehold over toll-road networks in Australia’s three largest cities of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

Motorists will be able to use the extra lanes on Melbourne's CityLink three months earlier than planned. Motorists will be able to use the extra lanes on Melbourne’s CityLink three months earlier than planned. Photo: Paul Rovere

Toll revenue from the Sydney motorways it operates – including the M7, the M2, the M5 South West and the Eastern Distributor – rose 12 per cent $239 million during the September quarter.

In Melbourne, toll revenue increased by 13 per cent to $192 million in the period.

Transurban is also expected to be the leading candidate to buy a 51 per cent stake in the 33-kilometre WestConnex toll road project in Sydney’s inner west from the NSW government.

The company’s chief executive, Scott Charlton, said the company would be “disciplined in our approach” to evaluating the WestConnex sale, citing a “history of bidding based on accurate forecasts” of traffic.

“We understand that there is significant interest from global and domestic parties in the sale process,” he told shareholders at Transurban’s annual meeting on Thursday.

“We are aligned with government for a long-term partnership. This contrasts with past experiences where some parties have sought quick profits through passing on unrealistic assumptions and leaving others to deal with the consequences.”

In Sydney’s north, Transurban is more than half way through tunnelling of a 9-kilometre link between the M1 and M2 motorways. The NorthConnex toll road project is due for completion in 2019.

Analysts from Citi said Transurban’s growth in traffic and toll revenue during the September quarter was significantly higher than their forecasts, and partly reflected higher than expected numbers of trucks using the CityLink.

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