Upgrade work on the Western Highway in Victoria, Australia, has begun to extend the highway 8km, according to the state’s government.

The work, estimated to cost A$505m ($462.8m) also includes construction of new lanes, a new bridge and conversion of an existing highway.

BMD Constructions is expected to provide the Western Highway duplication between Ballarat and Burrumbeet.

The work is scheduled for completion by 2012.

Premier John Brumby said the highway upgrade will improve road freight efficiency and help reduce travel times and costs for goods and rural produce in Victoria.

He said it will also deliver more efficient national transport links between Melbourne and Adelaide.