Case Study 3.1: Pakenham Bypass
The Australian Government contributed $121 million to the construction of the Pakenham Bypass - a 20 km bypass that forms a critical link in providing a safe, uninterrupted freeway between Gippsland and Melbourne. The bypass was opened to public traffic on 1 December 2007, relieving a major bottleneck and improving safety on the section of the Princes Highway between Beaconsfield and Nar Nar Goon.
Jointly funded by the Australian Government and the Victorian Government, the $242 million four-lane freeway provides a safe and efficient route south of the existing Princes Highway through the townships of Pakenham and Officer.
The Princes Highway provides a key transport route serving various industries, freight services and tourist areas in Gippsland, the La Trobe Valley and southern New South Wales. Key industries served by the highway in the region include timber, power generation, dairy, mining, agriculture and off-shore natural gas and oil. Construction of the Pakenham Bypass facilitates the continued growth and contribution of these industries to the Victorian and national economy.
Prior to the construction of the Pakenham Bypass, the Princes Highway through Pakenham was considered the last remaining bottleneck on Melbourne's eastern outskirts, with 11 intersections and six continuous traffic signals. The bypass has reduced travel time between Beaconsfield and Nar Nar Goon by up to 50%.
Other key benefits of the three-stage Pakenham Bypass project include:
- improved safety in and around the townships of Officer and Pakenham, resulting in reduced accidents and their associated economic and social costs;
- fuel cost savings and reduced emissions through the reduction in travel time for freight and tourism transport; and
- regional economic growth through improved freight efficiency and road access to Melbourne for businesses in south-east Victoria.
Environmental concerns were paramount in the planning of the project. A Project Environment Protection Strategy was developed with relevant stakeholders and provided a framework for environmental protection during and after construction. This ensured that specific plans were in place to protect three nationally listed threatened species identified within the Pakenham Bypass reservation: the Matted Flax-Lily flower, the Dwarf Galaxias fish and the Growling Grass frog.
The Pakenham Bypass is an enormous engineering feat that is complete with interchanges, bridge structures, noise walls and landscaping. The road reserve includes an allowance for the possible future upgrading of the bypass to six-lane freeway standard.
Pakenham Bypass looking east and showing noise walls (Photo DITRDLG)