Another Tullamarine Freeway then and now

The Tullamarine Freeway is the main road link between Melbourne Airport and the rest of the city, with the first 7.2 kilometres (4.5 mile) stage opened to traffic in 1968 as the ‘Tullamarine Freeway By-pass Road’.

Country Roads Board annual report 1968-69

Early years

A bridge taking inbound traffic from the airport over outbound traffic towards Sunbury.

Country Roads Board annual report 1968-69

A full diamond interchange was provided at Mickleham Road.

Country Roads Board annual report 1968-69

And a bridge taking Carrick Drive over the freeway.

Country Roads Board annual report 1968-69

Nothing changes

The years that followed saw a period of massive growth at Melbourne Airport, and the construction of CityLink at the Melbourne end.

Google Earth 2002

But the outer end of the Tullamarine Freeway stayed the same.

Google Street View 2008

The sign at Mickleham Road was metricated.

Google Street View 2008

But nothing new at Carrick Drive.

Google Street View 2010

At least until 2013, when the Western Ring Road interchange was expanded as part of the M80 Ring Road upgrade project, and an extra set of lanes was punched beneath the Carrick Drive Overpass.

Then the CityLink Tulla Widening project

The car parks at Melbourne Airport kept on growing.

Google Earth 2018

So in 2015 the Victorian Government said yes to an unsolicited proposal from Transurban for the ‘CityLink Tulla Widening’ project – a $1.3 billion package of works that would add extra lanes to the freeway between the CBD and the airport.

'New lanes now  open. Getting you home sooner and safer' propaganda from the CityLink Tulla Widening project

A bus-only bridge was constructed to allow buses to skip the queue exiting the airport.

Google Street View 2019

Collector/distributor lanes were constructed at Mickleham Road to separate traffic headed for the Ring Road from that entering the freeway.

Google Street View 2019

And an extra lane was added in each direction, taking the freeway from two to three through lanes at Carrick Drive.

Google Street View 2019

I wonder how long until the next road ‘upgrade’ will be needed?

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19 Responses to “Another Tullamarine Freeway then and now”

  1. Beren says:

    Whats funny is if you stay on the freeway past the airport, its like going back in time 50 years to a time when freeways were covered in potholes. All freeway upgrades occurred only to the airport, ignoring past the airport completely.

  2. Andrew says:

    “I wonder how long until the next road ‘upgrade’ will be needed?”

    And this is the folly of building freeways and major roads without any or inadequate public transport. You think governments of any persuasion would have realised this by now. Or not.

  3. Tony Taylor says:

    When Tullamarine Airport opened our grandmother took me and my brother to watch Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines at a cinema which used to be in the building just before the then Ansett terminal. I think it was called the Astro.

  4. Paul O'Connor says:

    nice pic of an FB Holden on the Tulla!! Also, I have examined the now disused bridge that once took southbound traffic from Tullamarine to the Calder Freeway. Even drove my car over it! It is still easy to access from the Calder Fwy or the Tulla fwy on ramp from Bulla Rd.

  5. Andrew says:

    Old fashioned thinking perhaps but what about instead of more road expansion we build a train line to the airport? Yes disingenuous, I know.

  6. Tony Smith says:

    Gladstone Park was also still under construction, so for quite a while Carrick Drive bridge led straight to a dead end, with hardly enough room to park in hope of staying undisturbed for a bit.

  7. Andrew S says:

    Another example of the accelerating population growth putting strain on infrastructure – this time out and around the airport. When it was built it was more or less ‘out of the way’ to avoid aircraft noise issues and allow curfew free operation with limited development around Tullamarine and Gladstone Park. When the freeway was built the Essendon drive in theatre stood out on its own on Melrose Drive when it was Lancefield Road, on the corner of Carrick Drive. The only hint to its existence today are the names ‘Paramount Court’, ‘Columbia Close’ and ‘Forum Place’

    Aside from airport access, this way out was another cross-country rat-run to access the Hume Highway pre M80 Ring Road days avoiding congested Sydney Road. From the freeway you’d travel north along Mickleham Road all the way out to Donnybrook Road where you’d turn right and access the Hume Highway at the Kalkallo Roadhouse. Apart from Gladstone Park you’d be on two lane roads out in the country with the old Mickleham Primary School bluestone building in the middle of nowhere. Today that same run is increasingly urbanised and on busy divided roads.

  8. Kevin says:

    The Hume City Council meeting of 7 Sept 2020 resolved “that Council writes to the Department of Transport regarding the bridge overpass on Carrick Drive Gladstone Park enroute to Tullamarine to investigate whether a footpath can be provided on the bridge.” It’s a shocking bridge for walking and riding over.

  9. DAMIEN says:

    In hindsight it would’ve been great if the railway was run in the median of the freeway from Strathmore on the Broadmeadows line to the airport.

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