The Australian state of Victoria’s Roads and Ports Ministry has awarded a A$759m contract ($705.6m) to Southern Way consortium to build Peninsula Link road.

The project involves building 27kms of motorway, with two lanes in each direction, between the EastLink toll road in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs and the Mornington Peninsula Freeway at Mt Martha.

The road is expected to reduce the travel time from Carrum Downs to Mt Martha by 40 minutes to just 17 minutes and benefit over a quarter of a million people living in Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula.

Construction, which includes 11 local road connections, over 35 bridges and a 22km walking and cycling path, is expected to begin shortly and finish by early 2013.

The winning consortium includes Abigroup, Bilfinger Berger and the Royal Bank of Scotland who will also operate the toll-free road for 25 years.

This is the first road Public Private Partnership project in the country, which will be toll-free and based on an availability charge.