START OF MAJOR WIDENING WORKS ON THE EJ WHITTEN BRIDGE

Major widening works to the EJ Whitten Bridge ramps up with two large remotely controlled cranes being assembled ahead of works starting next week.

The assembly of the 13-metre-tall gantry cranes marks the start of significant works to widen the bridge from three to five lanes in each direction, improving safety and slashing travel times.

Working 50 metres above the ground requires special gantry cranes in order to widen the bridge in the centre by connecting the two bridges together.

This unique construction method allows all lanes on the bridges to remain open during peak times, minimising disruption to the 165,000 motorists who travel along the M80 Ring Road every day.

The cranes will move from the Keilor Park Drive end to install 20 bridge beams weighing up to 1,700 tonnes and lay a new bridge deck all the way along to the Sunshine Avenue end.

The cranes will be operated remotely, creating a safer environment for workers and drivers on the bridge by giving the operator greater visibility at all times.

The M80 Ring Road will be widened from two to four lanes at Sunshine Avenue, an

d from three to five lanes over the EJ Whitten Bridge, right through to the Calder Freeway.

As part of the upgrade, permanent public safety barriers will be installed and the shared user path upgraded, improving safety for local cyclists, pedestrians and families.

There will be some night time lane closures and detours which will be advertised well in advance with motorists being encouraged to allow more time for their journey or to take an alternative route.

The Commonwealth and Victorian governments are each contributing $150 million towards the $300 million upgrade. The project is expected to be completed by late 2018.