Detailed designs for the first stage of one of Melbourne’s biggest ever road construction projects have been unveiled.

Unveiling the design for the six-kilometre East-West Link, Victorian Premier Denise Napthine said the project will cut travel times between the end of the Eastern Freeway and CityLink to just seven minutes and will deliver benefits for decades to come.

As the first part of a two-stage process to link the eastern, northern and western suburbs, stage one will involve a six-kilometre link between the Eastern Freeway and CityLink.

Key details of the design include:

  • Two 4.4-kilometre tunnels linking the start of Alexandra Parade with CityLink
  • A new bridge to take northbound Hoddle Street traffic onto the Eastern Freeway, allowing the removal of the existing loop
  • An entrance into the tunnel just past the Eastern Freeway
  • An interchange at Elliott Avenue providing access into and out of the tunnel toward the east
  • A tunnel portal just past the Upfield rail line with ramps allowing both northbound and southbound access on CityLink

The brief also includes the design for a port connection which will provide for a link between CityLink and the Port of Melbourne.

“This design allows for a range of construction methods – including some of the longest road tunnels in Australia at around 4.4 kilometres – to reduce community impacts as much as possible,” Napthine said, adding that extensive work had gone into geotechnical drilling and flora and fauna studies to ensure the project would be built in a sustainable fashion.

“It has been developed by specialists who have vast experience in urban design and construction, and we look forward to receiving community feedback on it.”

The project has been subject to considerable levels of public concern due to its potential impact on community icons in and around the Royal Park area including the State Netball and Hockey Centre, the Royal Melbourne Zoo, the Royal Children’s Hospital and surrounding parkland – concerns Napthine says have been largely addressed through the design being entirely at ground level or lower and through use of existing median rather than parkland.

The project is also controversial because of the need to compulsorily acquire property in inner northern suburbs such as Collingwood.

Roads Minister Terry Maulder says the design identifies 118 properties, including 92 residential and 26 commercial properties, which could potentially be affected.

Despite this, Napthine says the project will deliver enormous benefits to Melbourne and will go ahead in spite of whether or not federal funding is received. The federal opposition has pledged $1.5 billion if it wins the election, but Labour has a long-slated preference for cross-city rail.

Construction is expected to start in late 2014, with work on stage one expected to finish by the end of 2019.

Napthine says around 3,200 jobs will be created during peak construction.