The Government of Victoria in Australia has completed stage one of the Monash Freeway upgrade, enabling faster and safer travel for drivers in Melbourne’s south-east.

The first stage of the upgrade has seen the installation of 74 large steel gantries, 2,000 permanent concrete barriers and 200,000t of asphalt.

Australian and Victorian governments have invested A$1bn ($742m) for the upgrade.

With the completion of upgrade work, the speed limit on the freeway has returned to 100km/h, reducing travel time by more than seven minutes during peak times.

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“Electronic signage above the freeway, including lane use signs and electronic speed limits, was switched on in early June.”

As part of the upgrade, eight bridges on the freeway have been widened to carry new lanes.

Additionally, new lanes have been opened between EastLink and Clyde Road in May for creating additional space on the freeway to accommodate extra 2,000 vehicles per hour.

Electronic signage above the freeway, including lane use signs and electronic speed limits, was switched on in early June.

Under phase one of the Monash freeway upgrade, nine new freeway ramp signals have also become operational.

Australia Minister for Roads Luke Donnellan said: “This road is a lifeline to the south-east, especially the growing communities in Casey and Cardinia. That’s why we’re getting on and delivering the extra lanes we need to keep the Monash moving.

“With this massive project done we can get on with stage two of the Monash upgrade. Procurement is underway, early works will begin this year and major roadworks will start next year.”

As part of stage two, new lanes will be added between Warrigal Road and EastLink, as well as between Clyde Road and Cardinia Road.

It will also involve the extension of O’Shea Road to meet the freeway at an upgraded Beaconsfield Interchange.