Metropolitan Route Numbering System - 1989 Changes
  The system undergoes its largest upheaval since 1965
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Collage of some of the new routes introduced in the '1989 period'.
  Metropolitan Melbourne, 1980's
  The growth of Melbourne's metropolitan area since the 1960's saw the urban sprawl reaching a distance of 40 km from the Central Business District. As the suburbs on the metropolitan fringe opened up for new development, roads which once served as laneways through paddocks now became major thoroughfares serving housing estates. Closer to the city, many unnumbered routes had become more prominent, mainly by serving new industrial and economic regions.

The Metropolitan Route Numbering System was first introduced to Melbourne's road network in late 1965. However, subsequent changes were minimal and the system remained stagnant whilst the arterial road network grew. In response, a major review of guidance systems, i.e. route marking and directional signing, was initiated by the Road Construction Authority with the goal of simplifying navigation across Melbourne.

The task of overhauling the Metropolitan Route Numbering System unofficially began with a new signage program initiated 1984, where signage was designed with future route numbering in mind. It was not until 1987 when the Road Construction Authority officially announced plans to revamp the system, and soon after, changes were made, including the introduction of new routes. The task was accomplished in 1990, with the bulk of the work completed in the 1988/89 financial year.
  The Metropolitan Direction Signing Program
  In 1984, the Road Construction Authority (RCA) started the Metropolitan Direction Signing Program[1]. Announced on January 1 by the Victorian Transport Minister, the scheme involved the design and installation of new directional signage along arterial roads. These designs are still used today - the familiar reflective green panel, black-on-white road name panel and distinctive 'E Mod' font used for focal points (suburb destinations).

The signage program was an ambitious attempt to standardise directional signposting throughout Melbourne. The situation was described in the December 1984 edition "Roads, Victoria" (RCA Journal) written by project coordinator Phil Symons:

Past direction signing has evolved over many years but unfortunately this approach has resulted in inconsistent information and signing standards, and has left many important routes with inadequate signing.

Following examination of local, interstate and overseas research, the Metropolitan Direction Signing Program has been planned to overcome existing signing deficiencies on a network wide basis. The RCA will install, maintain and fund improved direction signing at major intersections in the metropolitan area in close consultation with municipal councils.

Prior to this, only major routes through Melbourne were provided with signage, while other roads were either poorly signed or not at all. For the routes that were actually signed, the designs consisted of non-reflective wooden signs with poor visibility at night, which also lacked proper advance warning for turning movements. The roads which were not signed suffered greatly from lost motorists who were not familiar with Melbourne's road network. This was the most significant factor contributing to the establishment of the new signage program.

Though the actual announcement of a renewal of the Metropolitan Route Numbering System was still some years away, the plan to introduce new routes was evident in the signs that were designed under this program. Many of the new signs included blank spacing, marked by a faint square outline, done in preparation for a new number when the need arose (or when the funds came) for one. The majority of signs with this design quirk were produced between 1985 and 1988, though a few of the 1987/88 produced signs did include the new route number on them.
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  Phantom Routes
  As explained above, signs designed under the Metropolitan Direction Signing Program included a provision to incorporate a future route number. This lead to an interesting scenario where some signs were produced in anticipation of a new route number in which the road in the end did not receive. Clear examples of this are on signs along:

- Elgar Road

- Nicholson Street (Carlton)
- Old Warrandyte Road (at Doncaster Road)

Click [here] for more information on these routes.
  Plan Announced and Implementation
  In 1987, the RCA officially confirmed that a review of the Metropolitan Route Numbering System would take place. An excerpt from the 1987 RCA Annual Report explains what the review involved:

During the year the RCA reviewed the Melbourne route numbering system, which has had only minor changes since it was introduced in 1966. The RCA has asked metropolitan councils for their comments and their agreement to the inclusion of a number of new routes in the system, to incorporate arterial roads which now carry significant volumes of traffic. The estimated cost of the proposals is $90,000.

After much deliberating, including discussions with over 54 metropolitan councils, the RCA commenced the project to revitalise the system. Many signs that were installed previously with the provision for route numbers were now given the appropriate route shield. The list in the Introduced Routes section below shows the new routes that were gradually introduced in the period between 1988 to 1990 (though a few signs of the new routes were installed as early as 1987), and the list in Modified Routes shows the changes to existing routes.

By 1989, the RCA had merged with the Road Traffic Authority to form VicRoads. Nonetheless, the task of fixing up the system continued and was completed in April 1990. The total of signs installed (including route shields for signs) stood at 76000, done over 1060 intersections across the metropolitan area. The final cost was $530,000 (1990)[
2]. Signs produced after 1989 had the new route number incorporated into the design.

The new routes introduced were numbered in accordance with the general rule of allocating east-west routes even numbers, allocating north-south routes odd numbers and locating the smallest numbers in the south-east of the metropolitan area, increasing in an anti-clockwise direction.

However, when the initial route numbers were allocated, the roads which would later become part of the Metropolitan Route Numbering System were not known. Hence, in many cases, the number desired to fit the pattern was unavailable and thus the RCA was forced to number some routes in violation of the general rules. A good example of this is the MR12. It belongs between MR10 and MR14, however the absence of an east-west arterial route between these two routes has resulted in the number being allocated to the Greens Road etc. arterial route between Mordialloc and Hallam, south of MR10. Click [here] for more information on these out-of-place routes.

In addition, new routes were introduced to the Mornington Peninsula. There routes were numbered between 60 and 73. Click here for more information about these routes. Metropolitan Route 2 was decommissioned and replaced by Tourist Route 2.

Maintenance of signs that were installed during the program, and directional signs installed since, remains the responsibility of VicRoads [2].
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  Introduced Routes
Frankston - Cranbourne
via Frankston - Cranbourne Road
Croydon - Lysterfield
via Dorset & Lysterfield Road
Carrum - Clyde North
via Thompson Road
Warrandyte South - Scoresby
via Croydon & Bayswater
Braeside - Narre Warren
via Greens & Hutton Road
Brighton East - Noble Park North
via Centre & Police Road
South Melbourne - Box Hill South
via Richmond & Camberwell
Doncaster East - Aspendale Gardens
via Mount Waverley & Clayton
Toorak - Hampton
via Elsternwick
Greenvale - Altona
via Tullamarine & Tottenham
Port Melbourne - Melbourne Airport
via Tullamarine Freeway
Reservoir - Fitzroy
via St Georges Road
Eltham - Oakleigh
via Doncaster & Box Hill
Yarraville - Southbank
via Dynon Road
Balwyn North - Donvale
via Doncaster East
Melton - Keilor
via Melton Highway
Laverton North - Newport
via Dohertys & Blackshaws Road
Mernda - Eltham North
via Diamond Creek
Greenvale - Epping
via Somerton Road & Cooper Street
Narre Warren East - Cranbourne
via Berwick Road & Berwick - Cranbourne Road
Lilydale - Cranbourne
via Belgrave & Narre Warren
Brooklyn - Nunawading
via Princes Highway & Eastern Freeway

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  Modified Routes
Northern portion of the route removed, truncated at Linlithgow Avenue.
Removed from Springvale Road, route truncated at the intersection of Mornington Peninsula Freeway / Springvale Road.

Extended south of Mount Martha via Mornington Peninsula Freeway to Rosebud.
Realigned from Blackburn Road on to Andersons Creek Road in Doncaster East.
Extended via Heatherton Road.
Extended further east via Wellington Road to Menzies Creek.
Route extended northwards from Heidelberg Road to High Street in Northcote via Grange Road, Albert Street, Boldrewood Parade and Broadway.
Extended westwards from Ferntree Gully Road on to Neerim Road and Glen Eria Road to Nepean Highway.
Route extended 150 m west to Queens Way from St Kilda Road.
Short extension east to Burwood Highway from Stud Road (though this section was under construction at the time).
Route extended 300 m north up Williams Road North to Alexandra Avenue.
Western portion removed from Howe Parade, route truncated at Beaconsfield Parade / Kerferd Road.

Extended eastwards from Belgrave to Emerald.
Extended northwards up Plenty Road to Whittlesea from South Morang.
Yarra ferry crossing, Williamstown and Kororiot Creek Road sections removed, realigned via Bay Street to Beach Street, Port Melbourne.
Footscray section realigned via Napier Street, Buckley Street, before extending westwards along Sunshine Road to Fitzgerald Road (Laverton North) via Market Road, Somerville Road and Boundary Road.
Melbourne to Port Melbounre (Spencer Street, City Road) section removed, route realigned via Graham Street to the West Gate Freeway.
Gatehouse Street / College Crecent section removed, route truncated at College Crecent.
Northern section realigned via Pascoe Vale Road and Somerton Road from Barry Road; terminus at Somerton Road / Hume Highway (now Sydney Road) intersection.

Footscray section realigned via Whitehall Street from Hyde Street.

Route extended from North Road, Newport to Altona North via Kororoit Creek Road.
Extended westwards to Sunshine via Churchill Avenue, Devonshire Road, Cornwall Road, Monash Street and Durham Road.
Removed from Tullamarine Freeway and Sunbury Road, realigned via Calder Freeway and Laverton - Keilor Road (Green Gully Road to Fitzgerald Road) to Princes Freeway West.

Removed from Station Street and Huntingdale Road, realigned via Doncaster Road, Mitcham Road and Springvale Road.
Removed from St Albans Road, Arthur Street and Green Gully Road . Realigned via McIntyre Road and Sunshine Avenue to Calder Freeway.
Realigned through Templestowe via Foote Street and Williamsons Road, thus removing route from Union / Parker / James / Anderson Streets.

Extended to Wonga Park via Jumping Creek Road.
Removed from Exhibition Street, truncated at Victoria Parade.

Moved from Greensbourough town centre onto Greensborough Highway (Bypass).
Removed from Main Road, Fitzsimons Lane and Williamsons Road, truncated at Main Road / Bridge Street.

Realigned from western portion of Settlement Road on to Wood Street, Dalton Road and Keon Parade.
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  [1] Road Construction Authority; Roads, Victoria; December 1984; p.6
[2] Road Corporation (Vicroads); Annual Report 1989/1990; June 1990; p.59
©  Main Roads Victoria. Last Updated: 8/02/15