Melbourne has the largest freeway network of any Australian city, and with it, possibly the country’s largest collection of ‘ghost ramps’ – pieces of freeway that lead nowhere.
Planning for a future that never came
The best known bit of ghost roadway is the incomplete ramp at Chandler Highway on the Eastern Freeway, along with an associated road overpass. Marked in a number of Melway directories since the freeway opened in 1977, the ramp was intended to take eastbound traffic beneath the Chandler Highway and then onto the proposed E6 freeway, which has never been built. The alignment remains in place today, along with a short piece of roadway leading from the in-use off ramp.
It still might happen
Ghost ramps also exist for a partially completed roads, such as the Mornington Peninsula Freeway at Jetty Road in Rosebud South. The freeway itself opened between here and the Nepean Highway at Dromana in 1975, but in the 1980s it was decided to extend the freeway a short distance west towards Boneo Road.
It was decided to only build the southern carriageway of the road and omit the freeway overpass at Jetty Road, leaving a road towards Portsea to be built on the alignment of the future westbound entry ramp, leaving large earth embankment at the city end of the road, and a short road to nowhere where the future freeway will land.
Moved due to new roads
Not all ghost ramps were built for never-completed freeways – some were closed as part of road upgrades. The Police Road outbound on ramp to the Monash Freeway is one opened around 1994 to allow traffic from Waverley Park to access the freeway.
With the construction of the Eastlink – Monash Freeway interchange a short distance to the east, the ramp was closed in 2005 due to concerns about traffic weaving, being replaced by a new ramp a short distance away at Jacksons Road. Today only minor traces of the ramp remain along Police Road.
Unsafe and redundant
A longer lived ghost ramp can be found at Church Street on the Monash Freeway. Originally opened in 1962 as part of the South Eastern Arterial from Punt Road to Burnley Street, two ramps were provided for eastbound at Church Street: the first for northbound traffic towards Richmond, and a second one that did a loop and directed traffic south towards Prahran.
With the construction of CityLink during the late 1990s, the tight curve for the loop was determined to be unsafe and the ramp being closed to traffic. After sitting idle for over a decade, Yarra Council has allocated $1.1 million in their 2013/14 budget to convert it into a park.
Leading into the darkness
Safety concerns also led to the closure of a different ramp on CityLink, this time at Power Street. Opened with the Burnley Tunnel in 2000, the ramp allowed traffic from the Melbourne CBD to access the westbound tunnel, joining the main traffic lanes a short distance inside the tunnel.
Asking the average Melbourne motorist to merge while inside the tunnel must have been too much of an ask, as in 2009 the ramp was closed as part of the Monash-CityLink-West Gate upgrade project, replaced by a new ramp from City Road, that merged with the existing Kings Way ramp outside the tunnel. The unused ramp remains in place today, but fenced off.
Omitted as part of an upgrade
Another former off ramp that still exists is located at the merge between the Tullamarine and Calder Freeways in Airport West. Originally opened in 1972, the interchange permitted traffic movements in all directions with a ‘trumpet’ layout.
Constrained by the adjacent airport, as traffic on the freeway increased over the years, congestion at the merge led to the interchange being rebuilt in 2005-07, with the airport bound carriageways being relocated to the centre of the freeway, and the former south to west ramp was closed, as the movement had been replaced by the opening of Western Ring Road some years earlier. Today the bridge and pavement remain in place, disconnected at both ends.
Catering to increasing traffic
Freeway upgrades are the reason for the abandonment of another freeway ramp, this time at the interchange of the Western Ring Road and the Tullamarine Freeway. Opened in stages between 1992 and 1997, the interchange permits traffic to proceed in a number of directions with a mix of flyover and cloverleaf ramps. The most hair raising ramp in the interchange carried southbound traffic from the Tullamarine Freeway to the westbound Ring Road, negotiating a 270 degree turn that was restricted to just 40 km/h, before an immediate merge with Western Ring Road traffic headed for Melbourne Airport and Melrose Drive.
The end result was much lane weaving and an increased risk of collisions, so this congested section of the roadway was replaced as part of the M80 Ring Road upgrade project, which constructed a flyover ramp over the top of the entire interchange, opening to traffic in early 2013. The pavement remains in place.