M Routes
  Primary road links between major centres
 
     
 
 
 
A variety of M routes on these intersection direction signs at the Western Ring Road / Calder Freeway interchange.
March 2006
 
   
     
 
'M' roads provide a consistent high standard of driving conditions, with divided carriageways, four traffic lanes, sealed shoulders and line marking that is easily visible in all weather conditions. 'M' roads are the primary road links connecting Melbourne and other capital cities and major provincial centres.
 
   
 
Number of Signed M Routes 9
Total Length (Signed Routes) 1060 km
Longest Signed M Route M31 - 292 km
Shortest Signed M Route M780 - 11 km
 
   
   
  M routes form the major routes between Melbourne and the State's provincial cities as well as providing interstate links. All M routes are dual carriageway roads with a minimum of four lanes, sealed shoulders and having full delineation. Currently, eleven M routes have been allocated across the state, however only nine are signed (see Reserved Routes section below). Contrary to popular belief, 'M' does not stand for ‘Motorway’; it is only a letter prefix. M routes were the first major routes in the Statewide Route Numbering Scheme to be signed after the initial trial in North Eastern Victoria in 1996.

Most dual carriageway freeways in Victoria have been allocated an M route number. The allocation of M routes is not limited to freeways, as the guidelines do not specific the classification of a road as a requirement. Therefore, a few arterial roads which satisfy the guidelines have been allocated an M route number. These include the M1 Princes Highway, M420 South Gippsland and Bass Highways and M780 Western Port Highway.

The Western, Calder, Princes, Goulburn Valley and Hume Freeways all have an M route number based on its previous National Route/Highway number. This is the case as interstate routes retain their number for consistency across the border[1] (eg. Calder Freeway's National Route 79 became M79).

Between 1996 and December 2009, routes that were previously designated as 'National Highways' under the former route numbering system in Victoria were given a special modified shield that surrounded the alphanumeric route number. This shield was a wider version of the original National Highway shield, an example of this can be seen with routes M8 and M80 in the above opening photo.
 
   
  Road Conditions  
     
  The following table outlines the typical road and driving standards for M routes:  
     
 
Driver Expectation Standard
Road width and road edges Lane width Four 3.5 metre sealed lanes (divided road)
Shoulder width 3.0 metres left side; 1.0 metre right side
Shoulder seals Yes: both sides
Bridge width between barriers Full traffic lane and shoulder width on bridges
Delineation Centre-dividing line marking Yes
Edge lines Yes: 150mm wide with audio tactile
Pavement markers Yes
Guide posts and reflectors Yes
 
   
   
  Reserved Routes  
  As well as signed routes, there are two M routes which have been reserved for use on Melbourne's metropolitan freeways. They are: the M2 for the Tullamarine Freeway and Citylink Western Link, and M11 for the Mornington Peninsula Freeway and Peninsula Link. The M11 was originally proposed as route M7 in 1996/97, but this was changed in 2006. The following table outlines the status of these two routes:  
   
 
Freeway
Reserved M Route
Current Signed Route
Notes
Citylink Western Link, Tullamarine Freeway
M2
Metropolitan Route 43
Signage along the West Gate Freeway prior to the CityLink interchange has M2 under Metropolitan Route 43 overlays. It is understood that VicRoads will not be fully implementing M2 at this stage (April 2011).
Mornington Peninsula Freeway, Peninsula Link
(Mornington Peninsula Route)
M11
Metropolitan Route 11
The first proposed allocation was M7, but this was changed to M11 in 2006. M11 (and the original M7) was to also include the Frankston Freeway and Moorooduc Highway.

Proposed introduction to coincide with EastLink opening, but was postponed. Signs showing M11 were coverplated prior to the opening of EastLink.

Peninsula Link and both sections of the Mornington Peninsula Freeway will be signed as M11 when the Peninsula Link completed.
 
   
   
  Signed Routes  
 
Princes Freeway, etc.
Waurns Ponds - Traralgon
Eastern Freeway & EastLink
Collingwood - Seaford
Western Freeway/Highway
Deer Park - Mitchell Park (Ballarat)
Hume Freeway/Highway
Thomastown - NSW border (Wodonga)
Goulburn Valley Freeway
Seymour - Tabilk, Wahring - Arcadia
Calder Freeway/Highway
Niddrie - Elphinstone
Western Ring Road & Metropolitan Ring Road
Brooklyn - Greensborough
South Gippsland Freeway/Highway & Bass Highway
Doveton - Anderson
Western Port Highway
Dandenong South - Langwarrin
   
 
   
   
  Reserved Routes  
 
Citylink Western Link & Tullamarine Freeway
Melbourne Airport - Port Melbourne
Mornington Peninsula Freeway & Peninsula Link
Edithvale - Rosebud
 
   
  [1] VicRoads (Roads Corporation); Traffic Engineering Manual Volume 2 - Signs and Markings; Dec 2001; Chapter 10.2.4  
   
 
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