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By Rowan Forster

 Infrastructure Australia has recognised the second-stage of the Monash Freeway upgrade as a high priority project, giving the next step a resounding green light.The independent advisory body’s assessment revealed the additional 36 kilometres of lanes will have a benefit-cost ratio of $4.6 for every $1 spent, reflecting the importance of the $711 million project.

Federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities Paul Fletcher said the Turnbull Government was inspired to make the revamped Monash Freeway a reality.

“Motorists make more than 470,000 trips on this corridor each day and that’s why the Turnbull Government is investing $500 million in this vital project – to help ensure those trips become quicker and easier for Melburnians,” he said.

“It will slash congestion and improve travel times for drivers across Melbourne’s south east while also ensuring safer journeys.”

The Victorian Government will fork up the remaining $211 million in the $711 million initiative.

According to Premier Daniel Andrews, the $400 million first stage of the Monash Freeway upgrade came in $111 million under budget – money which will be used to begin early works on the second-stage upgrade.

Federal Member for La Trobe Jason Wood said the upgrade will have huge benefits for commuters in Berwick and Pakenham.

“The project includes the upgrade of the Beaconsfield Interchange and the extension of O’Shea Road in Berwick, which would greatly benefit residents in the south east,” he said.

“The freeway will be widened between Warrigal Road and Eastlink and between Clyde Road and Cardinia Road,cutting an estimated nine minutes off a peak-hour trip between Pakenham and the city.

“This is going to deliver smoother and safer commutes for my community, ensuring people get from work tohome sooner so they can spend less time in traffic and more time with the family.”

Major construction on the project is scheduled to start in mid-2019 and is expected to be completed in early 2022, weather permitting.

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