By Kyra Gillespe and Rowan Forster
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has spruiked the second stage of the long-awaited Monash Freeway upgrade, describing the thoroughfare as a “parking lot.”
During his tour of Berwick on Friday 7 September, he expressed his frustration with the State Government for stalling the project.
“The only thing I get frustrated with, particularly around the Monash, is when you make the commitment in the budget to get stuff done and then there’s just delays and delays,” he told the Gazette.
“As Treasurer I committed half a billion to fix the Monash, which has been a parking lot for too long.
“There’s going to be more challenges ahead, no doubt, because this is a fast growing area of Melbourne.”
The highway will be expanded from eight to ten lanes between Warrigal Road and Eastlink, and from four to six lanes between Clyde and Cardinia Roads.
A new duplicated O’Shea Road in Berwick to the freeway and an upgrade to the Beaconsfield Interchange will be included in the works.
Construction works for the extra 36 kilometres of lanes is set to finish by 2022, and is expected to slash nine minutes off a peak hour trip between Pakenham and the city.
“I grew up in Pakenham and my mum used to have a veterinary clinic on Clyde Road, so I know the area intimately well,” Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities Alan Tudge said.
“O’Shea Road going out to Beaconsfield Interchange is going to transform this area and take a lot of pressure off Clyde Road.”
Outgoing Cardinia Shire CEO Gary McQuillan said population growth in the region is contributing to the gridlock on the Monash.
“We’ve got six new families moving in every day, and 70 per cent of our working population head out of the area for work every day.
“On average they would sit on the Monash for two hours a day.”
Jason Wood touted the benefits of the upgrade, claiming it will create 10,000 local jobs in the process.
However, he said it was long overdue.
“The Prime Minister made the money available for the Beaconsfield Interchange on O’Shea Road and extending the Monash, and that money has been with the State Government since March 2016,” he said.
“It hasn’t been spent and that’s put everything else behind.”