M3 Eastern Freeway
  .Melbourne's gateway to the east
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Eastern Freeway looking west at Belford Road overpass.
December 2007.

Designated Names

Name List - Column 1 & 2
Road Classification

Column 3

Eastern Freeway Alexandra Parade, Collingwood - Springvale Road, Nunawading Freeway #1830


in Kilometres


Eastern Terminus

Springvale Road (State (Bell/Springvale) Highway), Nunawading

Western Terminus

Alexandra Parade / Gold Street, Collingwood


Route Numbering

M3 EastLink east of Springvale Road, Nunawading

  The M3 Eastern Freeway is an 18 km radial freeway to Melbourne's eastern suburbs, passing through Doncaster and ending at Nunawading. It is one of the state's widest freeway - with 10 lanes between Chandler Highway and the western terminus near Hoddle Street. Construction first started in 1972, but it was not until 1997 when the last section was built to Springvale Road.

Plans for a freeway to the east of Melbourne were first instigated in 1954, with a planning study undertaken in 1959
[1]. It was not until 1969 when the route of the Eastern was proposed as a freeway F19, extending from Alexandra Parade to Wonga Road northeast of Ringwood. The portion of the route west of Chandler Highway received a large amount of public opposition, as the path of the freeway meant that ten acres of the Yarra Bend Park had to be bulldozed. The public opposition continued to build, as the decision to upgrade Alexandra Parade (Eastern Highway) on approach to the freeway fuelled the anti-freeway protests.

Construction of the first section between Hoddle Street and Bulleen Road began in 1972
, and was completed by December 1977[1]. The freeway was open in three sections - Hoddle Street to Chandler Highway; to Burke Road; and finally to Bulleen Road.

The second section between Bulleen Road and Doncaster Road was completed in June 1982
[1], and was later widen from four lanes to six in 1997.

The median strip between Hoddle St to just past Bulleen Road was reserved to be a railway, spurring off the Epping / Hurstbridge line at Victoria Park station and ending in Doncaster East. By the early 1980's, this proposal was canceled.

The extension of the freeway to Springvale Road and further to Ringwood was subject to a period of considerable public debate and conflicting reviews. In 1985 the Road Construction Authority undertook an Eastern Corridor Road Action Study which recommended construction of the route, though two years later an Environment Effects Statement raised public concerns about a perceived loss of amenity. In 1992 the extension to Ringwood was given planning approval and the decision was made to construct it in two stages[2] - firstly to Springvale Road (in conjunction with the section of Ringwood Bypass between Ringwood Street and Maroondah Highway); and secondly the section between Springvale Road and Ringwood. Construction commenced on the first stage (to Springvale Road) in August 1994[3] and was opened to traffic in December 1997, costing $250 million (1997)[4].

The eastern end of the Eastern Freeway also marks the start of EastLink, a tolled freeway linking the Eastern Freeway with the Frankston Freeway, some 39 km to the south. Initially, the extension past Springvale Road towards the Ringwood Bypass was under the project name of the 'Eastern Freeway Extension', at a projected cost of $326 million (2002). Later this section of the proposed F19 route between Nunawading and Ringwood was incorporated and costed under EastLink, with construction beginning in 2003 and finishing in June 2008.
  Events [1] [2] [3]
1954 First plans for an eastern route from Melbourne.
1959 Planning study for an eastern route from Melbourne.
1969 Proposed route finalised as freeway F19.
1972 Construction begins from Hoddle Street.
1977 Hoddle Street to Bulleen Road section opens.
1982 June Bulleen Road to Doncaster Road section opens
1985 Environmental Effect Statement (EES) for 'Eastern Arterial Road between Doncaster Road and Springvale Road begins.
1987 EES released.
1989 Metropolitan Route 83 replaces F83.
1994 Aug Construction of the extension of the Eastern Freeway between Doncaster Road and Springvale Road begins.
1995 Sept First bridge over Eastern Freeway extension at Elgar Road opens.
1997 Aug Bulleen Road eastbound ramps opens.
1997 Dec Doncaster Road to Springvale Road section opens.
2002 'Eastern Freeway Extension' incorporated into EastLink project.
2003 Construction of 'Eastern Freeway Extension' begins between Springvale Road and Ringwood Bypass.
2008 M3 replaces Metropolitan Route 83.
2008 June EastLink opens.
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  Route Numbering History
Hoddle Street - Doncaster Road
1977 - 1989

F83 was the first route number introduced onto the freeway. It was later extended to Doncaster Road in 1982.
Metropolitan Route 83
Hoddle Street - Springvale Road
1989 - 2008

MR83 was the second route number introduced onto the freeway. It was later extended to Springvale Road from Doncaster Road in the 1997.
Hoddle Street - Springvale Road
2008 -

Initially M3 was to be signed in 1997 when the extension to Springvale Road opened. New signs installed along the route included M3 shields, and were briefly displayed for a short period of time before they were promptly coverplated by MR83 shields. This was due to the reluctance of the state government at the time to have the freeway as an alphanumeric route.

The unveiling of M3 began in February 2008, coinciding with the opening of M3 EastLink in mid 2008.
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  Route Numbering - Metropolitan Route 40 Anomaly
  When the Eastern Freeway extension was completed to Springvale Road in 1997, drivers may have noticed the presence of Metropolitan Route 40 shields on signs at the interchanges of Springvale Road, Doncaster Road and Bulleen Road, advising of an MR40 / MR83 duplex along the freeway. In reality this was not the case, and it seems now that these signs reflected a short-lived plan to divert MR40 from its current alignment, eventually canceled halfway through the signage process.

From the signage on ground it is clear what the new alignment would have been - starting at the intersection of Eastern Freeway / Springvale Road, MR40 would have travel west along the Eastern Freeway until Bulleen Road, then north along Bulleen Road before finally resuming its current alignment west along Manningham Road. As a consequence, MR52's eastern end would have been extended south from Doncaster Road to the Eastern Freeway along Springvale Road; while at the western end, MR52 would have been truncated at the intersection of Manningham Road / Bulleen Road. Signage at both Eastern Freeway / Springvale Road (displaying MR52) and at Bulleen Road (no display of MR52) confirms this, some which are still showing the error to this day.

By the time the extension had opened, MR40 was haphazardly signed at the interchanges of Doncaster Road and Bulleen Road, though soon after some signs were rectified by coverplating the erroneously MR40 shields. With the introduction of M3 in 2008, many of the MR40 shields were removed.

See photos here.
  Signage and Focal Points

The Eastern Freeway has had a variety of signage with different destinations throughout its history.

In the 1970’s, it was common for Melbourne metropolitan freeways to be signed using a special coloured panel. The section of sign indicating the freeway had a background colour of ‘freeway green’, a similar shade to light green/aqua blue. When the freeway was extended to Doncaster Road in 1982, the focal points of the Eastern Freeway was 'City' for westbound traffic and Doncaster for eastbound traffic. The use of a 'freeway green' coloured panel ceased in the mid 1980's where it was replaced by a common reflective green panel used on all directional signs today.

In 1997, the Eastern Freeway was once again extended, this time to Springvale Road. Now the eastern terminus lied on the border of Nunawading and Donvale, and signage was replaced to show dual destinations of Nunawading and Doncaster between Hoddle Street and Doncaster Road, and Nunawading and Donvale between Doncaster Road and Springvale Road.

The opening of Eastlink in 2008 signified the change of the freeway's focal points to its final arrangement, as predetermined in the 2001 Traffic Engineering Manual. The Eastern Freeway’s ultimate eastern destination changed from Donvale/Nunawading to Ringwood, with all references to Donvale/Nunawading coverplated accordingly. All signs east of Hoddle Street now show Ringwood as of June 2008.

For photos, refer to this page.

  Detailed History
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  Exit List
  Interactive Maps
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  Photos (not covered by interactive maps)

Further Reading

Metropolitan Route 83
Decommissioned Metropolitan Route 83
M3 EastLink

MR62 Ringwood Bypass
Decommissioned F83

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  [1] Lay, M.; Melbourne Miles: The Story of Melbourne’s Roads; 2003; p.208 - 209
[2] Road Construction Authority; Eastern Arterial Road Doncaster to Ringwood Environmental Effects Statement Summary Brochure; 1987; p.6
[3] Vicroads; Eastern Freeway Extension Project Overview; 1997; p.3
[4] Vicroads; Eastern Freeway Extension Project Overview; 1997; p.1
©  Main Roads Victoria. Last Updated: 1/02/15