The North East Link will be the biggest transport project in Victoria’s history – finally building the missing link in Melbourne’s freeway network.

The North East Link will begin on the Eastern Freeway at Springvale Road, adding up to seven new lanes and almost doubling the size of the existing freeway.

The expanded Eastern Freeway section will remain toll-free.

Heading west, the freeway will connect to Victoria’s longest road tunnel at Bulleen with local underground connections at Banksia St and Manningham Road.

The six-lane tunnel will then travel deep beneath the Yarra River, protecting environmentally sensitive parkland and residential areas.

There will be a local connection at Lower Plenty Road, with the North East Link then running north alongside the existing Greensborough Highway, which will stay open for local traffic.

A new interchange will see North East Link travel beneath Grimshaw Street in Watsonia, before connecting to the M80 Ring Road at Greensborough, which is also being widened.

Travel times between Melbourne’s north and south will be cut by up to 30 minutes in each direction, with seamless connections for people travelling to Melbourne Airport.

Congestion on local roads in the north eastern suburbs will also be slashed, with up to 15,000 trucks taken off local streets a day, and more than 9,000 vehicles taken off hotspots like Rosanna Road.

Detailed design will now get underway and the business case, including finalising cost estimates, will be publicly released ahead of the Victorian Budget 2018/19.

Procurement and planning approval processes will also begin in 2018, ahead of a preferred builder being selected in 2019, and major construction starting in 2020.