Why is Melbourne traffic so bad right now?

If you've noticed Melbourne's roads feel more congested than normal, you're not alone. Here's why Melbourne traffic is hitting fever pitch this winter.

Melbourne's road network is experiencing higher-than-usual congestion this winter due to an onslaught of public works.

Several major government projects are causing road closures and public transport changes across the state of Victoria, leading to longer commutes for motorists – particularly in Melbourne's west.

A lot of these disruptions have fallen in the week commencing Monday July 3 and ending July 9, with Victoria's Department of Transport and Planning issuing a Transport Alert for this period, warning motorists of potential traffic delays.

"A record amount of work is currently taking place out on some of the biggest transport projects in Victoria’s history," the alert stated.

These projects include the West Gate Tunnel Project, which aims to deliver an alternative to the West Gate Bridge, and the Level Crossing Removal Project, which is in the process of removing 110 level crossings across metropolitan Melbourne.

The road works have been specifically scheduled to take place during Victoria's school holiday period (June 26 - July 7, 2023) to minimise traffic disruptions.

However, the collective impact of the widespread works – across both the road network and the public transport network – has resulted in what is a normally quiet time on Melbourne's roads becoming a period of high congestion.

Buses have also replaced trains on several major lines – including the Cranbourne, Sunbury, Pakenham and Frankston lines – prompting some commuters to trade public transport for their own cars.

In mid-June, Victorian Transport Minister Ben Carroll encouraged residents in Melbourne's west to work from home where possible, due to the extensive road works prompting significant delays in the area.

Traffic congestion is expected to continue through the month of July, with most of the current public works projects scheduled to finish up in late July or early August.

For a full list of current disruptions across Melbourne's road network, click here. Rail disruptions, meanwhile, can be found here.

Susannah Guthrie

Susannah Guthrie has been a journalist for over a decade. Previously, she has been the digital director of both Harper's Bazaar and Elle, a senior editor at The New Daily, the host of 'A Taste of Travel' on Channel Ten and a motoring columnist for CarSales. Susannah holds a Bachelor in Media and Communications from the University of Melbourne and cut her teeth as an intern for Time Inc in New York City. She has also completed a television presenting course with the National Institute of Dramatic Art. She lives in Melbourne with her husband and her son.

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