North East Link

The North East Link is a freeway planned for Melbourne's north eastern suburbs by the State government of Victoria as part of the Victorian Transport Plan and estimated to cost over AUD $6 billion. It was first proposed in the 1969 Melbourne Transport Plan, and is designed to provide a road connection between the Metropolitan Ring Road in Greensborough and the Eastern Freeway in Bulleen.



The North East Link – often marketed as the ‘missing link’ in Melbourne’s orbital road network – will provide an additional major Yarra River crossing for Melbourne.

Three proposed routes for the north east link were identified by consultation report prepared by GHD Consulting for the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Route 1: An eastern option from the Metropolitan Ring Rd to East Link via Kangaroo Ground and Chirnside Park.

Route 2: A central option from the Metropolitan Ring Rd to East Link via Eltham and Warrandyte.

Route 3: A western option from the Metropolitan Ring Rd to Eastern Freeway at Bulleen via Watsonia.

Route 3 was selected with controversy. For more details refer to the section titled Criticism.Proposed Route Proposed Exhaust stacks

The link proposes a combination of above-ground roadway and tunnel between Lower Plenty Road and the Eastern Freeway at Bulleen Road which will traverse the Banyule Flats and Yarra River. [1] Two tunnel proposals have been provided citing selection based on budgetary input. A shorter tunnel from Lower Plenty Rd to Bulleen Rd exiting near Heide museum and a longer tunnel from Lower Plenty Rd through to the Eastern Freeway.

Detailed engineering investigations and community consultation will be undertaken before finalising a route alignment and design for the road connection.

This project was submitted to the federal Government of Australia for funding consideration.


Project opponents argue the following disadvantages:

  • The proposed route will permanently limit the capacity of ring road to less than two lanes due to the Mullum Mullum tunnel. The tunnel will not only need to carry circumferential ring road traffic but also city bound radial traffic. Having radial and circumferential modes of traffic sharing the same segment of road is poor traffic engineering particularly when this segment of road is also constrained by a tunnel. During peak hours it will effectively reduce the capacity of this section of the ring road to one lane.
  • The alternative route linking Ringwood to Greensborough would bypass the Mullum Mullum tunnel thereby relieving pressure not only from the tunnel but also the busy sections of the Eastern Fwy between Doncaster and Bulleen roads. This alternative route would provide Melbourne with a true ring road that would not suffer from these unnecessary and costly capacity constraints.
  • There are well founded suspicions that the most plausible route linking Ringwood to Greensborough was rejected on political grounds (as the route passes through marginal electorates) rather than on sound engineering (cost/benefit) grounds.
  • The proposed route will be very expensive to build. Adequate road reservations do not exist necessitating either expensive tunnels or property acquisitions. The alternative route linking Ringwood to Greensborough already has the necessary road reservation in place today, an 80m wide powerline reservation.
  • The freeway will split Macleod and Watsonia in two reducing local amenity.
  • The Yarra River and surrounding parklands may be split away from residents of Bulleen and Heidelberg thereby reducing local amenity (depending on the lengths of the tunnel which has not yet been detailed)
  • The freeway is likely to divide the local community and result in local residents having difficulty in accessing public services and amenities such as schools, shops and transport (e.g.; Eastern Freeway/Burnley Tunnel).
  • The interchange at Bulleen Road will likely be a complex tunnel/fly-over arrangement requiring land acquisitions from the adjacent Freeway Golf Course and tennis centre significantly diminishing the local amenity. Exactly how Thompson Road continues to connect to the freeway and to Bulleen Road in an easterly direction is not clear and will not be simple.
  • The proposed route will impact the proposed Doncaster railway line, Melbourne along the Eastern Freeway. Certainly any future Doncaster rail project will become more expensive and hence less likely to eventuate.
  • Without the East-West road connection the proposal will increase congestion at Hoddle Street.
  • The route options assessment listed in the "North East Link Infrastructure Australia Proposal to Commonwealth of Australia" (obtained via Freedom of Information) contains no quantitative data supporting the economical costings when comparing routes.[2]
  • The North East Link will only provide a 9 minute decrease in travel time for freight traveling from the Hume corridor to/from Melbourne’s eastern and south eastern suburbs when compared to the existing freight route of Tullamarine and WestGate/Monash Freeways.[3]
  • The proposed entry point to the Eastern Freeway at Bulleen Road may not be suitable as this junction already suffers from considerable congestion and delays due to the volume of entering and exiting traffic.
  • Freight will continue congesting local roads, as the current freight passing through local roads does so to avoid tolled roads such as CityLink. Therefore a private public partnership building a tolled solution will not solve the current congestion issues.[4]
  • The project will serve largely as a freight connection to the south east and will have minimal impact on the congestion of local roads.[5]

As a public private funding partnership is unlikely to be a viable option, it is more likely that the Government will have to fund this road project. In addition, tunnel will cost close to one billion dollars per kilometre to build.

The freeway is planned to have on and off ramps constructed in built-up areas near Bulleen, Viewbank and Greensborough.[6]

The state government of Victoria plans to use the recently invented Act to bypass local objections to the freeway. The Major Transport Projects Facilitation Act 2009 overrides local councils existing rights to court objections to big projects. [7]

There is debate over the efficacy of this transport solution. The project will require a trade-off between environmental and sustainability objectives, compared with increased road traffic.

With this in mind it is worth noting that:

The Banyule Flats, the Warringal Parklands and the Yarra Corridor (the areas to be affected by the proposed freeway, tunnel or viaduct) are one the last unaltered natural areas in the inner North East. As such they are important habitat and are extensively used for recreation.

The areas also hold national, international and historical significance as the birthplace of the Heidelberg School, the first important art movement in Australia featuring works by Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Frederick McCubbin, Walter Withers, Jane Sutherland, Charles Conder and Louis Abrahams. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Heide is located within the proposed roadway area.

The Banyule City Council recently tabled a proposal to have the Banyule Flats, the Warringal Parklands and the Yarra Corridor made into a Heritage listed area.

Proposed benefits

North East Link is estimated to carry around 100,000 vehicles a day, providing non-stop movement and easier access for freight operators, particularly between the growing industrial areas around Ringwood, Dandenong, Campbellfield and the new freight-hub near Donnybrook.

With Melbourne’s north expected to home to around one million people in 2026, it is posited that the North East Link will reduce reliance on Fitzsimmons Lane, Heidelberg Road and Rosanna Road, and enhance access to Melbourne Airport as well as popular regional and interstate destinations.


  • In 2002, prior to the state election, Transport Minister Peter Batchelor and local ALP state member Craig Langdon promised to Banyule Town Hall that the North East Link would not be built.[8]
  • The proposed freeway was a major factor in the resignation of the local MP for Ivanhoe. On the 25th August 2010, Ivanhoe Labor MP Craig Langdon resigned from state politics stating: "My resignation also enables me to maintain a long-held commitment to the electorate, which was to resign from the government if I believed it was likely to build a freeway through Viewbank, Heidelberg and the Banyule Flats. Unfortunately, it appears that this could now be the case".[9]

Current Political Polices

  • Labor party candidate for Ivanhoe, Anthony Carbines Anthony Carbines advised that he supported the tunnel option but not an above-ground freeway. "there will not be an above ground freeway". Many people in the crowd took issue with this, saying that such a project could easily degenerate into an above-ground freeway for part or all of the route due to budgeting constraints as evidence in previous projects such as the Footscray rail tunnel.
  • Liberal party candidate for Ivanhoe, Carl Ziebell states that the Liberal party does not support the freeway without an economical, environmental and social impact statements. In essence the party would not commit to a freeway or tunnel and that both options were 'off the table' until more investigation was done. No firm commitments could be given either way.
  • Greens party candidate for Ivanhoe, Paul Kennedy is against the proposed freeway route and is in favour of stopping trucks via curfews on Rosanna road, duplicate the Husrtbridge rail line to increase train frequency and increase smartBus standards for the Banyule area.



Date Event
2002 Minister for Transport Labor MP Peter Bachelor and Ivanhoe Labor MP Craig Langdon promise local community at Heidelberg town hall that the North East Freeway would not be built.
2007 Eddington Report Released, suggesting development of North East link
2008, September GHD release North East link Assessment proposal
2008, December 8 Minister for Roads and Ports, Labor MP Tim Pallas, Announces plans for North East link[11]
2010, August 10 Banyule Council contacts Tim Pallas MP, expressing its disappointment in what appears to be a lack of transparency in the planning process for the North East Link and requests:
  • Briefing of all options for the North-East Link and any costings and cost benefit analysis.
  • VicRoads to advise of any new proposals that may be developed for the construction of this link.
  • Confirmation if a surface link has been considered and any costings for that link.
  • Confirmation as to whether a surface link is in VicRoads view still a valid option.
  • VicRoads to undertake full public consultation.[12]
2010, August 24 Ivanhoe Labor MP Craig Langdon resigns urging referendum on Transport Plan
2010, September 6 Tim Pallas MP replies to Banyule council advising;
  • VicRoads' planning for the North East Link is at a preliminary stage and detailed planning is still some way off.
  • Once the preliminary stage is complete VicRoads will consult Banyule city council and their residents.
  • The North East link expected to involve a tunnel between Lower Plenty Road and the Eastern Freeway to protect existing suburban areas and to minimise impacts on the Banyule Flats and avoid the Heidi Museum.[13]
2010, October 6 North East Link freeway public meeting held at The Centre in Ivanhoe
2010, November 23 Ex-Labor MP Craig Langdon letter boxes thousands of residents of Rosanna, Heidelberg and Ivanhoe with flyer titled "No freeway through Banyule" criticising Anthony Carbines who was preselected as his successor.
2010, November 24 Labor announce costing for the proposal of planning, investigative, and environmental assessment activities for the North East Link at $15.4M. Scheduled to commence in 2012‐13.[14]
2010, November 27 ALP MP Anthony Carbines wins seat of Ivanhoe with 36% of primary vote and 51% of preferred vote.[15] Liberal wins state election with no firm commitments on the North East Link.[16]
2011, March 09 At the Metropolitan Transport Forum Liberal MP Terry Mulder states that the new Victorian government would continue to pursue funding for the NE link despite not receiving any funding from the federal government’s Infrastructure Australia.[17]
2011, May 11 Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Edward O'Donohue states that NE Link is not part of the new Government's agenda but will be considered in the broader Metropolitan Planning Review which includes all aspects of planning across Melbourne including transport. [18]

Current Status

The north East Link freeway is in the initial stages of the planning process in which the nature and scope of the project is being determined. [19] However with the change of state government the project is being reviewed by the Victorian Public Transport Development Authority. As of the 9th March 2011, MP Terry Mulder states that the government will continue to pursue funding for the NE Link. In addition, Mr Mulder said the Coalition would consider rolling out the project in stages. Scoping work for the freeway is due to be completed in April, with a report due mid-year. Pending the outcome of the report, a feasibility study may be initiated. [20] [21][22]


  1. ^$UNIDS+for+Web+Display/2F81FF76ABB4A712CA25752200239E87/$FILE/GHD_EWLNA_and_Northern_Link.pdf
  2. ^
  3. ^ Page 5,
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ The Age : Freeway dissenter urges referendum 2010/08/25.
  10. ^ Article Friends of Banyule Public Meeting a GREAT SUCCESS,
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^$File/ALP%20143%20North%20East%20Link%20Release.pdf
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
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  21. ^
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External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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