VicRoads will close four of the five outbound lanes on the busy West Gate Bridge from 9pm Monday, December 26 2022 (Boxing Day) to 6am Wednesday, January 4 2023 for essential annual maintenance.
Drivers and travellers are warned to expect “significant delays” that could exceed 90 minutes and should avoid the area by making detours early.
- Motorists warned to avoid West Gate Bridge from Boxing Day night to January 4 morning
- Victorians from Hobsons Bay and travellers to Melbourne Airport urged to plan ahead
- Delays from essential works could exceed 90 minutes with flow-on traffic effects
This year, VicRoads will replace the waterproofing membrane underneath the middle lane going outbound, while conducting structural checks of the steel box bridge, resurfacing and markings.
Only one lane can be open to traffic to ensure workers have space for onsite equipment and are at a safe distance from moving vehicles.
Those who are travelling to Melbourne Airport or any direction via the bridge should check the VicRoads website for recommended detour routes and plan ahead.
“We do it at this time every year because it’s the time of the lowest traffic volume of that year [20 to 25 per cent lower],” Victorian Department of Transport spokesperson Chris Miller told Wheels.
“We are warning that the delays could be really quite bad. So, maybe take the Eastern Freeway, for example. It might add an extra 10 or 15 minutes to the regular journey, but it’s a lot better than sitting in 90-minute delays,” he said.
The West Gate Bridge is the busiest bridge in Australia and carries around 200,000 vehicles at its peak, per day, with 10 inbound and outbound lanes in total.
Flow-on traffic delays are expected on the West Gate Freeway, the Domain Tunnel, city-bound lanes of the Monash Freeway, and surrounding roads through the CBD, Docklands and Southbank. Inner suburbs like South Melbourne, South Yarra and Toorak will also be affected.
“Our modelling suggests the majority of people that actually use the bridge at that [holiday] time of year are workers from the Hobsons Bay area – so that’s suburbs like Altona, Point Cook and Werribee,” added Miller.
“We’re saying to them, maybe consider public transport – the Werribee-Williamstown train lines will be unaffected and running as normal. Otherwise, they will need to take a wider detour.”
“We also don’t want people trying to make a flight [at Melbourne Airport] and then discover a big wall of traffic. With the delays that we’re expecting, there’s not going to be an opportunity to make the last-minute detour,” he said.
Built in 1978, the West Gate Bridge is a steel, box-girder 2582-metre longbridge – double the length of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. It’s part of the West Gate Freeway and links the CBD to Melbourne’s western suburbs and cities like Geelong.