The Princes Freeway is a 159-kilometre (99 mi) Australian freeway, divided into two sections both located in Victoria, Australia. The freeway links Melbourne to Geelong on the west (47 kilometres (29 mi)) and Traralgon on the east (112 kilometres (70 mi)). It continues beyond these extremities as the Princes Highway towards Adelaide to the west and Sydney to the northeast. The freeway bears the designation M1.
The western section linking Geelong and Melbourne is an important commuter and freight route between the two cities; the eastern section links Melbourne with the Latrobe Valley. The entire freeway is one of the busiest sections of rural highway in Victoria, used by large numbers of freight and commercial vehicles and provides access to tourist attractions in central and east Gippsland. It supports Victoria’s rural industries and tourism.
The western section (also known as Princes Freeway West or Geelong Road) starts from Altona at the West Gate Interchange, where the Western Ring Road and the old Geelong Road can be accessed by off ramps, and ends at Geelong. This section ranges from six lanes (three in each direction) between Geelong and Werribee, to ten lanes near the Ring Road interchange. Between 1999 and 2003 the section from Hoppers Crossing to Geelong was progressively widened to provide a third lane in each direction, in addition to a number of other safety upgrades being completed. Following this upgrade the speed limit was lowered from 110 kilometres per hour (68 mph) to 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph) in response to the freeway’s poor safety record.
The eastern section (also known as Princes Freeway East) starts from Berwick, a four lane (two lanes in each direction) divided freeway. There are also several highway standard at-grade intersections, most notably between Nar Nar Goon and Longwarry. These intersections are speed limited to 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph), with the only 110 kilometres per hour (68 mph) section on the freeway from Longwarry to Morwell. However, traffic still travel through the towns of Yarragon and Trafalgar, therefore urban speed limits apply to these towns (between 60 and 80 kilometres per hour (37 and 50 mph)) where the road reverts to the Princes Highway (though planning for bypasses of these towns are underway).
The western and eastern sections are connected together through the Melbourne suburbs by the West Gate Freeway, CityLink Tollway and the Monash Freeway. These five sections of road together constitute the route M1 which is part of National Highway 1.
The Princes Freeway subsumes and bypasses most sections of the older Princes Highway. Former bypassed sections of the Princes Highway are generally signed with a National Route Alt 1 shield (within eastern Melbourne) or designated from C101 to C104 and C109.
In March 2010 it was announced by the State Government that trucks would be banned from the right-hand lane along a 38-kilometre (24 mi) section of freeway between Geelong and Melbourne. Suggestions of a ban began in 2005 but increased after the fatal 2007 Burnley Tunnel fire that killed three people. The ban was put into place from 1 July 2010 between Kororoit Creek Road, Altona, and Avalon Road, Lara and covers all heavy vehicles weighing more than 4.5 tonnes (4.4 long tons; 5.0 short tons), except buses and caravans. A fine of $358 applies to those breaking the rules, the ban being a trial before a full roll-out on the other major roads in the state.
On the urban section of the Princes Freeway (between Laverton North and Werribee), the standard travel time, is 9 minutes. (6 minutes between the Western Ring Road and and 3 minutes between and ).
The usual peak period travel time, is between 12–18 minutes. However, in times of extreme congestion, including being residual from an incident, the travel time can well exceed 20 minutes.
Exits and interchanges
The road is divided in two distinct sections that do not meet; yet the sections are connected by the Monash Freeway and the West Gate Freeway. In the east, the section is 122 kilometres (76 mi); while the western section is 37 kilometres (23 mi) in length.
LGA Location km mi Destinations Notes Latrobe Traralgon 0 0.0 Princes Highway (A1) – Rosedale, Sale, Gippsland, to Sydney, New South Wales Eastern terminus; continues east and then northeast as the Princes Highway (A1) 0 0.0 Grey Street to Traralgon West Road (C477) – Traralgon West Northbound exit, east and westbound entrances 1.1 0.68 Breed Street to Shakespeare Street and Hyland Highway (C482) – Loy Yang, Yarram
Breed Street to Bank Street and Hazelwood Road (C476) – Churchill
Southbound exit to the Hyland Highway (C482); southwest bound exit to Hazelwood Road (C476); westbound entrance from Breed Street (south); eastbound entrance from Breed Street (north) only Morwell 8.3 5.2 Princes Drive (C104) – Morwell Westbound exit and eastbound entrance only 11.2 7.0 Tramway Road (C474) – Morwell, Churchill Westbound entrance and eastbound exit only 12.1 7.5 Monash Way (C456) – Morwell, Churchill Westbound exit to the south and north; northbound entrance to the east and the west; eastbound exit to the north and south only 14 8.7 Commercial Road (C475) – Morwell, Churchill Westbound entrance; eastbound exit only 16.8 10.4 To Commercial Road/Strzelecki Highway (B460) – Morwell, Mirboo North, Leongatha 18.1 11.2 Princes Drive (C104) – Morwell Westbound exit to the north only 22.7 14.1 Haunted Hills Road (C471) – Yallourn North Newborough 27.8 17.3 To John Field Drive (C103) – Moe, Newborough Moe 32.2 20.0 Old Gippstown Drive (C103) – Moe Baw Baw Trafalgar 40.3 25.0 Willow Grove Road (C463) – Willow Grove Mount Baw Baw
Trafalgar-Thorpdale Road (C469) – Thorpdale
Yarragon 47.7 29.6 Yarragon-Shady Creek Road – Shady Creek Westbound exit and entrance only Darnum 53.9 33.5 East-West Road/Darnum-Shady Creek Road – Cloverlea, Darnum Nilma 57 35 Drouin-Warragul Road (C102) to Bloomfield Road (C462) – Noojee
Drouin-Warragul Road (C102) to Queen Street (C102) – Warragul
Drouin-Warragul Road (C102) to Nilma-Bona Vista Road – Bona Vista
Warragul 58.9 36.6 Alfred Street – Warragul Eastbound entrance only 60.5 37.6 Warragul-Korumburra Road (C425) – Korumburra, Warragul Drouin 66.2 41.1 Princes Way (C102) – Drouin North-westbound exit to the west; south-eastbound entrance from the west and the east; north-westbound entrance from the west and the east; south-eastbound exit to the east and the west only 73.2 45.5 Princes Way (C102) – Drouin, Mount Baw Baw, Neerim Westbound exit to the south and north; westbound entrance from the south; eastbound exit to the north and south; eastbound entrance from the north only 78.4 48.7 Sand Road (C421) – Longwarry, Labertouche Cardinia Bunyip North 81.4 50.6 Abeckett Road – Bunyip
Abeckett Road to Wimpole Road – Bunyip North
Bunyip 84.2 52.3 Tonimbuk Road – Tonimbuk, Bunyip Garfield 86.5 53.7 Martin Road – Garfield North Eastbound entrance and exit; and westbound entrance and exit to the north only 87.1 54.1 Jefferson Road – Garfield Westbound entrance and exit only 87.8 54.6 Garfield Road – Garfield Eastbound entrance and exit; and westbound entrance and exit to the south only 88.1 54.7 Garfield North Road – Garfield North Eastbound entrance and exit; and westbound entrance and exit to the north only Tynong North 84.2 52.3 Brew Road – Tynong North and Gumbuya Park Eastbound exit and entrance only 90.3 56.1 Brew Road – Tynong North and Gumbuya Park Westbound exit and entrance only Tynong 92.7 57.6 Tynong Road / Tynong North Road – Tynong, Tynong North and Bunyip State Park Nar Nar Goon 97.9 60.8 Nar Nar Goon Road (C433)) to Princes Highway (C101) – Pakenham, Nar Nar Goon Pakenham 105 65 Koo Wee Rup Road (C422) – Koo Wee Rup, Pakenham 106 66 McGregor Road – Rythdale, Pakenham Eastbound entrance and westbound exit only Officer 110 68 Cardinia Road – Cardinia, Officer Beaconsfield 116 72 Beaconsfield-Nar Nar Goon Road – Beaconsfield, Officer Westbound entrance and eastbound exit, both from the north only Casey Berwick 119 74 Clyde Road (C407) – Berwick, Clyde, Cranbourne Narre Warren 122 76 Princes Highway (ALT1) (C101) – Narre Warren, Berwick, Cranbourne Westbound via the Princes Highway, an alternate route to Melbourne that is not subject to road pricing. 122 76 Monash Freeway (M1) – Melbourne, to Melbourne Airport, Geelong and to Adelaide, South Australia Western terminus; continues west as the Monash Freeway (M1) 1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
- Incomplete access
LGA Location km mi Exit Destinations Notes Hobsons Bay Brooklyn 0 0.0 West Gate Freeway (M1) – Melbourne Eastern terminus; continues east as the West Gate Freeway (M1) 0 0.0 W9 Princes Highway (SR83) – Brooklyn, Traralgon, Sale, and to Sydney, New South Wales Eastern terminus; option to continue east as the Princes Highway (SR83) 0 0.0 W10 Western Ring Road (M80) – Sunshine West, Adelaide, Sydney, and Melbourne Airport Northern entrance and exit as the Western Ring Road (M80) Laverton 3 1.9 11 Kororoit Creek Road (SR35) – Williamstown, Tarneit 4 2.5 12 Old Geelong Road to Fitzgerald Road – Deer Park, Tarneit Eastbound exit to the north only Altona Meadows 5.8 3.6 13 Newland Street / High Street – Altona Meadows, Laverton Southwest bound exit and entrance to the east; northeast bound exit and entrance to the west only Seabrook 7.2 4.5 14 Point Cook Road via Aviation Road / Central Avenue (SR41) – Point Cook, Laverton 8.2 5.1 15 Palmers Road – Seabrook, Point Cook Westbound exit and eastbound entrance only Wyndham Point Cook 9.3 5.8 16 Forsyth Road (C701) – Hoppers Crossing
Boardwalk Boulevard – Point Cook
11.4 7.1 17 Princes Highway (C109) – Hoppers Crossing, Werribee Westbound exit, eastbound entrance and exit only 13.7 8.5 18 Sneydes Road – Werribee, Point Cook Werribee South 16.4 10.2 19 Duncans Road (C108) – Werribee South, Werribee, Werribee Open Range Zoo Westbound exit and eastbound entrance only Cocoroc 21 13 20 Princes Highway (C109) – Werribee Little River 29 18 21 Little River Road / 160 South Road – Little River, Cocoroc 31.6 19.6 22 Point Wilson Road – Point Wilson Westbound exit and eastbound entrance only Greater Geelong Lara 38.5 23.9 Beach Road to Old Mebourne Road – Point Wilson 42.2 26.2 Avalon Road – Lara, Avalon 45.8 28.5 Shell Parade (C115) – North Shore Westbound exit and eastbound entrance only 45.8 28.5 Princes Highway – Corio, Geelong Western terminus; option to continue west as the Princes Highway 45.8 28.5 Geelong Ring Road (M1) – to Colac and the Great Ocean Road and Adelaide, South Australia Western terminus; continues as the Geelong Ring Road (M1) 1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
- Incomplete access
Current and recent upgrades
Traralgon Bypass & Duplication to Sale
Vicroads has completed a final strategy and plans for the M1 Traralgon Bypass. 4 options were put to the public, with Option 2 chosen as the preferred route.
No further work on the project since 2012 has been made.
East of Traralgon, the A1 section between Traralgon and Sale is currently being duplicated and upgraded to M road standard.
Geelong Ring Road
The Federal and State Government announced the construction of a new bypass extending 23 kilometres along Geelong’s western outskirts from the Princes Freeway in Corio to the Princes Highway in Waurn Ponds. Drivers using the Bypass between Corio and Waurn Ponds will avoid up to 29 sets of traffic lights, with a travel time at freeway speeds of less than 15 minutes compared with the current 25 – 60 minute trip through Geelong.
The Federal Government allocated $186 million in funding with the State Government providing the remainder, giving a total of $380 million. Construction works for Section 1, between Corio and Bell Post Hill commenced in February 2006. Contracts for Section 2, between Hamlyn Heights and Fyansford, commenced in September 2006 and construction of Section 3, between Fyansford and Waurn Ponds, commenced in November 2007. All 3 stages were scheduled for completion in June 2009.
Duplication to Winchelsea and Colac
West of Geelong, duplication of the Princes Highway between Waurn Ponds and Winchelsea commenced in 2011 and was to be completed by late 2014, though opened in May 2016 after substantially being delayed. Construction for the Winchelsea – Colac section is now underway (which began in early 2016), with both the Victorian and Australian governments contributing $515 million for this project. Once completed around 2018 and beyond, it will be an M standard road.
The Pakenham Bypass was the final missing link of a continuous freeway from Melbourne to Gippsland in the East of Victoria (excluding the single sets of traffic lights in the small rural towns of Yarragon and Trafalgar). Federal and State Governments jointly funded construction of the bypass at a cost of $242 million which commenced in April 2005 and was completed on 1 December 2007. The 24 km freeway which runs from Beaconsfield to Nar Nar Goon bypasses the townships of Pakenham and Officer and provides an important link between Gippsland and Melbourne.
- Bypass eases town traffic
- Community celebrates the completion of the Pakenham bypass
- All go for a bypass
- Boom times ahead – The Age paper
- Vicroads, Pakenham Bypass
Proposed safety improvements, Princes Freeway East – Nar Nar Goon to Longwarry North, included in the Victorian Government’s Auslink 2 funding statement National Transport Links – Growing Victoria’s Economy (aka “the Mothership”) [dead link].
Princes Highway East
Proposed duplication of the Princes Highway – Traralgon to Sale, to be funded by Auslink 2 (2009–2014) [dead link].
Princes Highway West
Proposed duplication of the Princes Hwy – Waurn Ponds to Colac, as well as possible upgrades to Warrnambool, to be funded by Auslink 2 (2009–2014) [dead link].
- Freeways in Victoria
- Geelong Ring Road
- West Gate Freeway
- Monash Freeway
- M1 Princes Freeway West, Main Roads Victoria. Retrieved on 28 August 2013.[self-published source]
- M1 Princes Freeway East, Main Roads Victoria. Retrieved on 28 August 2013.[self-published source]
- Main Roads Victoria: Site on Victorian Roads
- Lucas, Clay (4 March 2010). “Trucks banned from freeway lane”. The Age. Retrieved 19 July 2010.
- “Truck lane restrictions : VicRoads”. www.vicroads.vic.gov.au. Archived from the original on 26 February 2011. Retrieved 19 July 2010.
- Craven, Jessica (17 June 2010). “Princes Freeway truckies in right, will be in wrong”. Geelong Advertiser. Retrieved 19 July 2010.
- “40 Argyle Street, Traralgon VIC 3844 to Princes Freeway, Berwick VIC 3806”. Google Maps. Google. 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
- “Princes Freeway West”. Google Maps. Google. 2016. Retrieved 13 October 2016.
- “‘ FULL STEAM AHEAD FOR GEELONG BYPASS AS FIRST AUSLINK FUNDING AGREEMENT SIGNED’ – 27 May 2005″. Archived from the original on 29 August 2007. Retrieved 26 July 2007.
- “‘AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT AGREEMENT FOR GEELONG BYPASS STAGE 3′ – 18 July 2007″. Archived from the original on 2 September 2007. Retrieved 26 July 2007.
- “DoI Media Release – ‘PREMIER INSPECTS WORKS ON SECTION TWO OF GEELONG BYPASS ‘ – December 12, 2006”. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 26 July 2007.
- “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 7 March 2014. Retrieved 24 February 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- “Abigroup – Pakenham Bypass”. Archived from the original on 11 August 2007. Retrieved 26 July 2007.
- “DoI media release – ‘COMMUNITY CELEBRATES AS FIRST SOD TURNED ON THE PAKENHAM BYPASS’ – August 5, 2005”. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 26 July 2007.