After 22 months of work and years of planning, the new Ravenswood interchange at the intersection of the Calder and the Calder Alternative highways is now fully open to traffic.
The new southbound carriageway was opened to vehicles Friday morning, with traffic having been able to travel the northbound lanes since late last year.
The new interchange features an elevated circular road that separates vehicles joining or leaving the Calder Alternative Highway, Beilharz Road, Ravenswood Street and Bickfords Road from the fast-moving traffic on the Calder Highway carriageways.
It is the first roadway of its kind in the state.
VicRoads project director Susana Fueyo Suarez described the interchange as “an innovative design to improve safety”.
The $86 million project, jointly funded by the state and federal governments, was commissioned following two fatal crashes and several other serious injury crashes on that section of road from 2009.
Former premier Denis Napthine once labelled it “the most dangerous intersection anywhere in Victoria”.
Bendigo East MP Jacinta Allan said the new interchange was important for safety and necessary to accommodate the growing amount of traffic the road was experiencing.
It is expected the area’s road network will see a 60 per cent increase in traffic within the next 30 years.
“When you think about growth on this corridor… It was important to design an interchange and corridor that was going to last for the long-term,” Bendigo West MP Maree Edwards added.
The project was originally scheduled to be complete by the end of 2017, but Ms Fueyo Suarez said unprecedented rain had halted work for some 130 days.
Ms Edwards thanked the community for its patience during the construction of the interchange, as well as those who worked on the project.
Motorists travelling on the Calder Highway and nearby roads have been subject to changing routes and slower speeds as work progressed on the project.
Calls for the upgrade came in 2012; in 2013, state and federal parties promised funds; and it was in 2014 that designs for an interchange were released.
Workers are expected to remain at the interchange completing landscaping and minor works until May.