West Gate Freeway
   Gateway to Melbourne's West
  home | Highway 1 - Victoria | M1 Princes Freeway/Highway West | Citylink | M1
West Gate Freeway eastbound approaching West Gate Bridge at Williamstown Road.
December 2004

Designated Names

Complete Name List - Column 1 & 2
Road Classification

Column 3

West Gate Freeway Western Ring Road - Kings Way Freeway #1820

Lower Yarra Freeway

Former name of freeway between Western Ring Road and Williamstown Road before 1978.


in Kilometres


Western Terminus

Western Ring Road (M80) / Princes Freeway (M1) Interchange, Brooklyn

Eastern Terminus

Kings Way (Alternative National Route 1), Southbank

Route Numbering

F82 (1978), National Route 1 (1978), Tourist Route 2 (1989), M1 (1997)


Route Numbering

M1 Princes Freeway West west of Western Ring Road, Brooklyn

M1 Link Road (Citylink Southern Link) east of Kings Way, Southbank

  The West Gate Freeway is the gateway to Melbourne’s west, connecting the CBD with the Princes Freeway and Western Ring Road. It traverses Melbourne’s most famous piece of infrastructure, the West Gate Bridge, which it was named after. The West Gate Freeway carries large volumes of freight from inner western Melbourne, Geelong, and interstate, destined for the Port of Melbourne and other associated industrial centres.

The plan for the West Gate Freeway was first conceived in a 1929 study for a Yarra River crossing west of the CBD, designed to relieve congestion off Princes Highway through Footscray. Further investigations in 1962 concluded that the freeway was viable along today's alignment, and the proposed route was designated as route F9. Construction began in 1968, and by 1971 the first section of the "Lower Yarra Freeway" between Princes Highway West and Williamstown Road was opened.

In 1970, a section of a bridge span of the West Gate Bridge collapse in which 35 lives were lost. Following the disaster, safety was improved, and the bridge was finally opened on 15 November 1978 at a ceremony where the bridge was named “West Gate Bridge” and the freeway “West Gate Freeway”. From 16 November 1978 until 29 November 1985 the bridge was operated as a toll facility, with toll booths located at the now service centres at Todd Road.

The freeway varies between eight and ten lanes wide, with works done in 1993, 1996 and 2000 - making it one of the widest freeways in Melbourne. Its width is most notable between Citylink and Kings Way.

The construction of the Citylink included upgrade works on the West Gate Freeway, and it has effectively extended the West Gate east to the Monash Freeway via two freeway tunnels under the Yarra River east of the CBD.

Today, the West Gate Freeway is an important section of Melbourne's interconnecting freeway network.
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  Snapshot - Route Numbering
  Upon the opening of the the West Gate Bridge in 1978, National Route 1 was realigned from Kings Way onto York Street / Market Street (two one-way streets), Clarendon Street, and Lorimer Street before meeting the temporary eastern terminus of the West Gate Freeway at Rogers Street. Route F82 was also introduced, duplexing with National Route 1

Prior to 1978, National Route 1 traversed King Street, Racecourse Road, Smithfield Road, Geelong Road before meeting the Princes Freeway at the western terminus West Gate Freeway. This section was replaced by Alternative National Route 1, which was later replaced by Metropolitan Route 83 ten years later.

In 1986, a 1 km extension of the West Gate Freeway between the temporary terminus at Rogers Street and Montague Street was opened, and F82 was extended accordingly. National Route 1 was moved from Lorimer Street onto the freeway.

In September 1988, the final elevated section of the West Gate Freeway was completed between Montague Street and Kings Way, and National Route 1 was appropriately realigned onto the freeway. At the same time, F82 was decommissioned, and Tourist Route 2 was initallised soon after between Graham Street and Williamstown Road. In 1997, the introduction of the Statewide Route Numbering Scheme onto Melbourne's freeways saw route M1 replacing National Route 1.
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1929 - Idea of the freeway and bridge first conceived.
1962 - Investigations
for construction of a Lower Yarra River crossing were commenced.  

1968 - Lower Yarra Freeway construction commenced.

1970 - Section of West Gate Bridge collapsed - 35 lives lost.

1971 - Freeway between Princes Highway and Williamstown Road opened.

1978 - West Gate Bridge completed.

1978 - Freeway opened between Williamstown Road and Rogers Street. Renamed 'West Gate Freeway', and tolled.

1978 - Construction begins on elevated section between Graham Street and Kings Way.

1978 - National Route 1 duplex with F82.
1986 - Rogers Street to Montague Street section opens.

1987 - The elevated northern (eastbound) carriageway between Montague Street and Kings Way opened.

1988 - The elevated southern (westbound) carriageway between Montague Street and Kings Way opened.

1988 - F82 decommissioned.
1989 - Tourist Route 2 introduced.

1993 - West Gate Freeway widened to six lanes between Millers Road and Princes Freeway.

1996 - Improvement works as part of Citylink commenced.
1997 - M1 replaced National Route 1.
2000 - Widened to eight lanes and installation of new concrete median barriers between Grieve Parade and the West Gate Bridge.

2000 - Improvements made between Citylink Western Link and Power Street to cater for Citylink traffic.
2006 - Proposals for second West Gate tunnel or bridge revealed by the state government.

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  History of the West Gate Freeway:  
  From road to bridge  
  Performance and Operation  
  Performance and Operation of the West Gate Bridge  
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  Exit List  
  Exit List  
  National Route 1:
  Former Alignment: South Melbourne  
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  Interactive Maps  
  • Western Ring Road Interchange
  • Grieve Pde
  • Millers Road
  • Williamstown Road
  • Todd Road & Service Centre
  • Citylink Western Link Interchange
  • Montague Street
  • Kings Way / Citylink Southern Link Interchange
  Between Western Ring Road and Kings Way  
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  Further Reading  
  M1 - Princes Freeway West
M80 - Western Ring Road
Metropolitan Route 83 - Princes Highway West
Metropolitan Route 43 - Citylink Western Link
Alternative National Route 1 - Princes Highway East M1 - Citylink Southern Link
©  Main Roads Victoria Webmaster. Last Updated: 28/11/08