Managed Motorways Operations

Find out more about our approach to creating safe, reliable and efficient motorways.

Safe, reliable and efficient motorways

Melbourne’s motorways (including freeways and tollways) carry about 40% of the city’s arterial road traffic despite making up only 7% of the arterial road network length (measured in lane-kilometres). 

  • Motorways service 4 to 5 million trips each day and are the heavy lifters in contributing to ease of transport and liveability in Victoria.
  • Using these motorways efficiently is essential in providing a safe and reliable service to all Victorians. 
  • The aim of these motorways is to provide optimum traffic operations and travel times. 

Impacts of motorway congestion

When traffic congestion happens, it causes stop / go traffic with the following impacts:

  • Speed can drop by up to 50%, impacting travel time and reliability
  • Traffic flow can drop by up to 20% 
  • Productivity (speed multiplied by flow as a measure of efficiency) can drop by up to 50%
  • Safety is reduced and the risk of crashes increase

Congestion also impacts many kilometres of motorway infrastructure, delaying motorists regardless of their travel distances. 

Our approach

Our approach to managed motorways is world leading best practice. The coordinated ramp metering system provides an integrated approach that embraces design, intelligent transport systems and optimised operation. 

When compared to other systems, our approach has unparalleled on-road performance in improving safety, travel time and reliability.

We use coordinated ramp metering signals as the primary control. This is supplemented with: 

  • ramp signals to regulate and space out vehicles entering the motorway - this improves merging and downstream motorway operation
  • overhead lane signs to control traffic flow, particularly in an incident
  • on-road message signs displaying real time travel times and incident information
  • CCTV cameras and vehicle sensors to manage traffic as well as monitor breakdowns and accidents

The main purpose of metering traffic entering a motorway is to prevent flow breakdown and congestion. The secondary purpose is to assist in recovery from congestion if it occurs, limiting the spread of queues upstream. 

Travel times are best when there is no congestion and traffic is moving at a consistent speed. Motorists may see ramp signals operating, even if the motorway appears to be moving at a reasonable speed. 

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