Mitchell Freeway is a 36-kilometre-long (22 mi) freeway in the northern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia, linking central Perth with the city of Joondalup. It is the northern section of State Route 2, which continues south as Kwinana Freeway and Forrest Highway. Along its length are interchanges with several major roads, including Graham Farmer Freeway and Reid Highway. The southern terminus of the Mitchell Freeway is at the Narrows Bridge, which crosses the Swan River, and the northern terminus is at Hester Avenue, Clarkson, a suburb within the City of Wanneroo.
Map of Perth's northern suburbs with Mitchell Freeway highlighted in red
|Length||36 km (22 mi)|
|Route number(s)||State Route 2|
|South end||Kwinana Freeway (State Route 2)|
|North end||Hester Avenue|
|Major suburbs / towns|
Planning for the route began in the 1950s, and the first segment in central Perth was constructed between 1967 and 1973. The Mitchell Freeway has been progressively extended north since then. In the 1970s, the first two extensions were completed, up to Hutton Street in Osborne Park. By the end of the 1980s, the freeway had reached Ocean Reef Road in Edgewater. The Joondalup railway line was constructed in the freeway median in the early 1990s. This necessitated the relocation of a section of the southbound carriageway, and the construction of three new bridges. In conjunction with these works, additional lanes were constructed in the realigned section.
Since the 1990s, extensions to the Mitchell Freeway have taken it to Burns Beach Road at the northern edge of Joondalup. During 2013, two sections of the northbound carriageway were widened with an additional lane. In August 2017, an extension was completed to Hester Avenue, after construction starting in 2014. Further works are planned, which will take the freeway past Yanchep and Two Rocks to the boundary of the Perth Metropolitan Region.
The Mitchell Freeway is the northern section of State Route 2. It commences at the northern end of the Narrows Bridge, Perth, continuing from Kwinana Freeway, and terminates just north of the satellite city of Joondalup at Hester Avenue, Clarkson. All intersections with the freeway are via grade separated interchanges. The speed limit is 100 kilometres per hour (60 mph) except in central Perth, where the limit is reduced to 80 kilometres per hour (50 mph) as the freeway interchanges with Graham Farmer Freeway and Mounts Bay Road. South of Hepburn Avenue, the freeway has 3 to 5 lanes in each direction. From that point north, there are mostly two lanes in each direction, expanding to three lanes between Hodges Drive and Shenton Avenue. The median strip of the freeway also houses the Joondalup railway line, with all but two of the line's stations also built on the strip. Additionally, a shared pedestrian and bicycle path is built alongside most of the freeway.
Perth and West PerthEdit
The section near the Perth city centre, within the City of Perth local government area (LGA), features many partial access interchanges. The Narrows Interchange is located just north of the Narrows Bridge, on the eastern edge of Kings Park. This is a hybrid interchange connecting the freeway with Mounts Bay Road and Riverside Drive, over a distance of 800 metres (2,600 ft). There is complete access to and from Mounts Bay Road via a standard northbound exit ramp and looped ramps for the other movements. There is a partial Y-Interchange incorporated for direct access to and from Riverside Drive via a southbound exit ramp and a northbound entrance ramp. All other traffic movements must be made via Mounts Bay Road. The Riverside Drive entrance ramp merges with the Mounts Bay Road northbound entrance ramp. The southbound exit ramp is similarly shared, before diverging for three destinations: Mounts Bay Road, Riverside Drive, and the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre car park. The main northbound exit to Hay Street is via an access road, which begins on the Mounts Bay Road exit ramp. The access road rejoins the freeway as an outside lane on the shared Riverside Drive and Mounts Bay Road entrance ramp. The Hay Street exit ramp, a short distance later, can be accessed from the two outermost lanes. This allows the traffic entering the freeway from the ramp to continue north or exit at Hay Street without weaving.
The freeway continues north-westerly for 240 metres (790 ft), splitting Mount Street in half, and passing under Malcolm Street. After this, it turns north-easterly for 500 metres (1,600 ft), and lines up with the city blocks between George and Elder streets, a pair of one way frontage roads. The freeway also marks the boundary between Perth and West Perth. Partial access is provided to or from all the roads that the freeway crosses over (or under in the case of Hay Street). North of Roe Street, the freeway turns north-west towards Glendalough over the course of 1.1 kilometres (0.68 mi). In this section the freeway marks the boundary between the City of Perth and City of Vincent LGAs. There is a full Y-Interchange here with Graham Farmer Freeway, which bypasses the Perth city centre via a tunnel, and provides access to Perth Airport. Combined with this interchange is a partial Y-Interchange with Charles Street. The southbound entrance ramp merges with, and northbound exit ramp diverges from, the Graham Farmer Freeway ramps. There is a traffic light controlled intersection with Newcastle Street at the northern end of these ramps. Charles Street is the start of State Route 60, an alternative route to Perth's northern suburbs and areas north of the Perth Metropolitan Region. Located in the vicinity of these interchanges are the Sutherland Street northbound entrance ramp, from West Perth, and a southbound exit ramp to both Roe Street, and Wellington Street, Perth. The Loftus Street overpass, near the northwestern end of the Graham Farmer Freeway ramps, is the edge of the City of Perth LGA; beyond this point the freeway is the boundary between West Leederville in the Town of Cambridge and Leederville in the City of Vincent.
Northern suburbs of PerthEdit
In the northern suburbs of Perth, most of the interchanges are standard diamond interchanges, and the rest are modified versions, which have ramps missing or replaced with loop ramps. The first interchange 0.9 kilometres (0.56 mi) north-west of West Perth, is with Vincent Street and Lake Monger Drive. This interchange has a looped southbound entry ramp, so that Leederville Parade can join to the south side of intersection with Vincent Street and the southbound ramps. The northbound exit ramp terminates at Southport Street, 200 metres (660 ft) south of Vincent Street and Lake Monger Drive. The freeway then proceeds northwest for 1.9 kilometres (1.2 mi) alongside Lake Monger's eastern edge, after which there is a half diamond interchange with Powis Street, with only a northbound exit ramp and a southbound entrance ramp. The freeway continues north, now within the City of Stirling LGA, through Osborne Park, until it reaches Hutton Street after 2.4 kilometres (1.5 mi). There are several local roads in Osborne Park that have T-Junction intersections with the freeway ramps south of Hutton Street. These are McDonald Street West and Hector Street West, with the northbound exit ramp; and Cape Street, Hector Street, and McDonald Street with southbound entry ramps. The freeway has an 3.2-kilometre (2.0 mi) S-curve after Hutton Street, moving to an alignment further west that does not bisect any suburbs. The interchanges with Cedric Street on the S-curve, and Karrinyup Road at the end of the S-curve, are diamond interchanges. There are slight modifications to the entrance and exit ramps between these roads, which merge for 500 metres (0.31 mi), requiring traffic to weave. The curved section is the boundary between Stirling to the east of the freeway, and Osborne Park and Innaloo to the west.
The next interchange, after 1.6 kilometres (0.99 mi), is with Erindale Road. It is another half diamond interchange, with only northbound exit and southbound entrance ramps. Beyond Erindale Road, the suburb to the east of the freeway is Balcatta, and 1.3 kilometres (4,300 ft) further north is Reid Highway, with the southbound entry ramp looped. Balcatta Road joins the intersection of the southbound ramps with Reid Highway. Reid Highway, together with Tonkin Highway, provides a limited-access route to Perth Airport. North of Reid Highway, Mitchell Freeway divides Carine to west from Hamersley to the east. There is no access to next major road, Beach Road. It forms the border between the City of Stirling and City of Joondalup LGAs; as well as between Carine and Duncraig west of the freeway, and Hamersley and Warwick to the east. However, Warwick Road's interchange is only 2.1 kilometres (1.3 mi) north of Reid Highway. It is a standard diamond interchange, but weaving is required between Reid Highway and Warwick Road due to the short distance between the interchanges. Greenwood is located north of Warwick Road and east of the freeway.
The following two interchanges, after 2.6 kilometres (1.6 mi) and 2.1 kilometres (1.3 mi) respectively, are with Hepburn Avenue and Whitfords Avenue. The Hepburn Avenue interchange is located at the corners of Duncraig, Greenwood, Kingsley, Western Australia, and Padbury; while the Whitfords Avenue interchange is located at the corner of Kingsley, Padbury, Cragie, and Woodvale. Each interchange also provides access for the railway stations in the median (Greenwood and Whitfords respectively) via the southbound entry ramps, which are two-way north of the carparks' entrances. North of here, over a distance of 7 kilometres (4.3 mi), are standard diamond interchanges with Ocean Reef Road, Hodges Drive, and Shenton Avenue, which provide access to Joondalup city centre, and Joondalup Health Campus, east of the freeway. West of the freeway are the suburbs of Heathridge, Connolly and Currambine. The Edgewater railway station lies just to the north of the Ocean Reef Road interchange (road access via Joondalup Drive), with the railway deviating to the east from the median just south of Hodges Drive to stop at Joondalup railway station.
After 350 metres (1,150 ft) north of the Shenton Avenue interchange, the railway line re-enters the freeway median just prior to passing under Moore Drive. Both the freeway and railway line then pass over Burns Beach Road, 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) further north with the Currambine railway station lying 200 metres (660 ft) to the south. The diamond interchange with Burns Beach Road is the northernmost fully signalised interchange on the freeway and lies at the corner of Currambine, Joondalup, Kinross and Neerabup. The next interchange, after 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi), is with Neerabup Road and is a hybrid interchange where the western side is a teardrop roundabout common to dogbone interchanges while the eastern side is a full roundabout similar to a dumbbell interchange. The latter is due to the southbound entry ramp being built with a second roundabout 100 metres (330 ft) to the south. Although currently unused, it is likely to be used as access to any future parking at Clarkson railway station immediately to the north of the interchange (similar to the setups at the Hepburn and Whitfords Avenue interchanges). The current freeway terminus is reached 2.7 kilometres (1.7 mi) north at Hester Avenue at a partial dogbone interchange. Until the freeway is extended, access to areas further north is provided by Marmion Avenue to the west of the terminus, or via Wanneroo Road to the east.
The Mitchell Freeway began as a highway proposed in the Metropolitan Region Scheme in the mid-1950s. The original plan took the route, then known as Yanchep Highway,:137 inland from what is now known as Karrinyup Road to the intersection of Wanneroo Road and Balcatta Road. However, the first gazetted edition of the Metropolitan Region Scheme, from 1963, shows a controlled-access highway along the current freeway alignment. The later plan only detailed the route up until a point east of Sorrento, at a proposed east-west controlled-access highway on the modern day Hepburn Avenue alignment.
Detailed design on the first stage of the freeway, from the Narrows Bridge to Sutherland Street at the northern edge of the city, began in 1960, and took several years to be completed.:187–89 The design included a complex interchange at the Narrows Bridge that was to be built on reclaimed land that was mostly soft mud.:187–9 Ground improvement works, which included the installations of 43,000 sand drains, began in 1964;:189 demolition of buildings in the freeway's path commenced in 1965. The freeway was completed in three sections, under three separate contracts.:213 Construction on the central section from Mount Street to Wellington Street started on 18 November 1966, following a groundbreaking ceremony conducted by Premier David Brand. It was opened to traffic two years later, connected to the Narrows Bridge via a temporary Bailey bridge over Mounts Bay Road.:213 The new road carried up to 1400 vehicles per hour during peak hours.:215
Work on the section north of Wellington Street, known as the Hamilton Interchange, began in October 1969. It was partially opened on 17 November 1971, but was not completed until 4 October 1972.:215 The final part of the project to be completed was the Narrows Interchange. Construction began in 1970 with the installation of thirteen caissons, which would house foundation columns. Placement of the caissons was difficult; as well as sinking vertically as intended, they also tilted and slid horizontally. Corrections were made by selective excavation, blasting bedrock, and applying tension via guy-wires.:215–18 Following the foundation works, construction proceeded swiftly; most of the work was completed by 1972.:217 Premier John Tonkin opened the interchange on 30 November 1973.:219 This initial section functioned only as a distributor for Narrows Bridge traffic accessing Perth's central business district or adjacent areas to the north-west. Whilst initially referred to as the "Western Switch Road", it was renamed after the former Western Australia State Premier and Governor Sir James Mitchell, on 5 June 1963.:187  In 2008, Stage 1 was declared a National Engineering Landmark by Engineers Australia as part of its Engineering Heritage Recognition Program.
Several stages were built through the late 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. The first extension of the freeway was nearly a mile long (1.6 km), taking the freeway to Vincent Street. This stage also included a long, curving bridge, eight-span bridge connecting northbound traffic to Charles Street. The construction of this stage, which began in February 1974, resulted in the suburb of Leederville being split in two.:261  Residential and industrial buildings were demolished, and streets were cut off on both sides of the freeway's path. The extension opened to traffic on 8 March 1976, having cost $15.15 million.:261 It was opened by the state Minister for Transport, Mr R J O’Connor, MLA. A commemorative plaque was located under the bridge leading to Charles Street.
The design of Stage 3 of the freeway, a 4.8-kilometre (3.0 mi) section extending to Hutton Street, was completed in 1974. The existing soil was not suitable for construction, as the area generally consisted of soft peat and old landfills. In 1975, the ground was consolidated with 720,000 cubic metres (25,000,000 cu ft) of sand.:261 Construction took place between 1976 and 1978, with the section opened by the Minister for Transport, David Wordsworth, on 2 June 1978.:261  A commemorative plaque was unveiled at the Powis Street bridge. This stage cost $12.5 million, and received the Institution of Engineers Australia's Western Australian Division Engineering Excellence Award in 1978.:261
After a four-year gap, construction of Stage 4 began, which would take the freeway to Erindale Road. The first half of the stage, up to Karrinyup Road, opened on 12 December 1983, while the project wasn't complete until 21 September 1984.:308  It was opened by the state Minister for Transport Julian Grill, MLA. This section completed 24 kilometres (15 mi) of freeway in Perth, from Bull Creek to Balcatta. The next two stages were constructed together, extending the freeway to Hepburn Avenue. Stage 5 was from Erindale to Warwick Road, and involved excavating a large quantity of material, including 600,000 tonnes (590,000 long tons; 660,000 short tons) of limestone. That stage cost $22.73 million, while Stage 6 only cost $8.06 million.:308–9 Both stages were opened together, on 6 August 1986.:309  The first stage of Reid Highway (then known as the North Perimeter Highway) was built at the same time, and opened on 16 May 1986. A further extension to Ocean Reef Road was opened on 2 July 1988 by the Federal Minister for Transport, Peter Morris, at a cost of $17.5 million. The state and federal governments provided most of the funds, $9.7 million and $5.2 million respectively. The City of Wanneroo contributed $1.3 million, Joondalup Development Corporation $1 million, and land developers $300,000, as they wanted the freeway built ahead of schedule to stimulate local development.:309–10
In 1991 and 1992, the median strip of the entire freeway was significantly widened to accommodate the Joondalup railway line, being built under the Northern Suburbs Transit System project. The line was to be located in the middle of the road reserve, between the freeway carriageways. At the time, the northbound and southbound carriageways, between Loftus Street and McDonald Street, were positioned next to each other, with space for future widening located on the eastern side of the road reserve.:395  Initially, three new road bridges were constructed over Vincent Street, Powis Street, and Scarborough Beach Road. Once the road bridges had been completed and surfacing works completed, the southbound carriage was relocated, creating the required space for the railway line construction. Additional lanes were constructed in the realigned section, funded from regular road funding sources, whilst the bridges and some associated works were included as part of the costs for the Northern Suburbs Transit System project.
After a 7-year-hiatus, a 3-kilometre (1.9 mi) extension to Hodges Drive was opened by the Premier Richard Court in December 1999, two months ahead of schedule. The project also included widening the section between Karrinyup Road and Hepburn Avenue to three lanes in each direction.
After another 7-year-hiatus, construction began on a 4-kilometre extension to Burns Beach Road, with a diamond interchange at Shenton Avenue and an overpass for Moore Drive. Local residents were opposed to aspects of the initial plans, such as the design of a section near a primary school and the clearing of native vegetation. The state government therefore established the Community Consultative Working Group and later the Construction Reference Group, composed of members of the local community. The input from these groups resulted in several changes to the design. The project was managed by Main Roads in conjunction with Macmahon Contractors. Construction of the extension was initially planned for May 2006, but began on 14 December 2006. By July 2008, 90% of the works had been completed and the new section was predicted to open in September 2008. However, the official opening was not until 2 November 2008, when the road was opened by Western Australia's Minister for Transport, Simon O'Brien, and the previous Minister for Planning and Infrastructure Alannah MacTiernan. The $160 million project was completed $10 million under budget. The opening was celebrated with a procession of vintage cars along the new freeway segment.
In its 2011/12 budget, the State Government committed $30 million for the widening of Mitchell Freeway northbound between Hepburn Avenue and Hodges Drive from two to three lanes. Traffic volumes in the preceding years had increased rapidly, almost reaching the previously projected 2016 traffic volume of 40,000 vehicles per day. The resulting congestion in the afternoon traffic peak increases the chances of rear-end crashes as well as driver frustration. Construction of the third lane began in February 2013, the 4.5-kilometre (2.8 mi) section from Hepburn Avenue to Ocean Reef Road opened in August 2013 with the remaining section to Hodges Drive completed in early 2014. As part of the project, the existing lanes were resurfaced during the summer months of 2013–14.
The freeway was also expanded further during 2013 with an extra lane northbound between Perth and Hutton Street, in conjunction with works to increase the capacity of the Graham Farmer Freeway tunnel. Works progressed in two stages, with Vincent Street as the midpoint. As part of the project, the overpasses at Powis Street, Vincent Street and Scarborough Beach Road have been widened. An additional slip lane has been constructed, from Graham Farmer Freeway's Loftus Street exit ramp to Mitchell Freeway northbound, to access Vincent Street without changing lanes to the left lanes of Mitchell Freeway northbound. The project commenced in February 2013 and was completed in December 2013.
In October 2012 the state government announced that the freeway's interchange with Reid Highway will be upgraded with the installation of extra turning lanes and traffic lights. The project is an interim solution to lower congestion and reduce the volume of traffic using local roads to avoid the interchange. The longer term plan is to upgrade Reid Highway to a dual carriageway near the freeway interchange, including a second overpass bridge, and a second free-flowing loop ramp between Reid Highway westbound to Mitchell Freeway northbound. The dual carriageway works commenced construction in May 2015 and were completed a year later.
The latest extension was from Burns Beach Road to Hester Avenue. In December 2012, the State Government announced the freeway would be extended between 2014–15 and 2016–17, over a distance of 6 kilometres (3.7 mi). The extension included interchanges at Burns Beach Road and Neerabup Road. Work on the extension began with a ground-breaking ceremony on 20 May 2015. The projected cost was $261.4 million, with the federal government contributing $209.1 million and the state government funding the remaining $52.3 million. The project scope included a six-kilometre (3.7 mi) dual carriageway extension to Hester Avenue, Clarkson, with grade-separated interchanges at Burns Beach Road, Neerabup Road and Hester Avenue. Other roads in the area were upgraded, including widening Hester Avenue and Wanneroo Road, and extending Neerabup Road east to the intersection of Flynn Drive and Wanneroo Road. The project was completed on 3 August 2017, opened by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Premier Mark McGowan and Transport Minister Rita Safiioti.
The 7-kilometre-long (4.35 mi) southbound section of the freeway between Cedric and Vincent Streets is currently being widened to four lanes and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. $40 million was assigned to the freeway widening itself, with a further $19 million allocated for the upgrade and completion of a Principal Shared Path (PSP) between Scarborough Beach Road and Hutton Street, including a separated pedestrian and cyclist overpass over the former. The bridge for the overpass was notoriously delivered during peak hour on 11 September 2019, causing a 17-kilometre-long (11 mi) traffic jam for southbound commuters.
The corresponding northbound section from Hutton to Cedric Street is also being widened to four lanes, with the northbound exit lane onto the latter also being widened to two lanes. 5.3 kilometres (3.29 mi) of concrete barriers are also planned to be installed between Glendalough Station and Erindale Road. Work is expected to commence in October 2019 and finish by September 2020.
There is a longer term plan to add a third lane to the southbound carriageway of the freeway from Hodges Drive to Hepburn Avenue. The Australian Federal Government has already committed $35 million to the project.
The Mitchell Freeway is planned to continue north to the Metropolitan Region Scheme's boundary, beyond Yanchep and Two Rocks. The state government announced in March 2012 the formation of the Mitchell Freeway Extension Community Working Group. The group worked with Main Roads Western Australia to investigate options for relieving congestion, with a focus on the next freeway extension. Several options were considered, before the group released a strategic business case in November 2012. The report recommends a staged approach, starting with intersection improvements between 2013 and 2015. This was followed by a freeway extension to Hester Avenue in 2017. An expressway standard extension to Romeo Road, Alkimos is proposed to be completed by 2021.
There is a plan to extend Stephenson Avenue northbound from its current terminus with Scarborough Beach Road to terminate at Cedric Street as part of the Stirling City Centre development project. An additional interchange will be built to the south of Cedric Street to accommodate the extension.
The entire freeway is in the Perth Metropolitan Region.
|Perth||0.0||0.0||Kwinana Freeway (State Route 2) south||Southern freeway terminus: continues as Kwinana Freeway|
|Mounts Bay Road (State Route 5) – Nedlands, Fremantle, Perth City Centre||Northbound exit to Hay Street via service road|
|Riverside Drive (State Route 5) – Perth City Centre||Partial Y-Interchange: no northbound exit; Access to Perth Convention Centre|
|1.04||0.65||Hay Street||Northbound exit only|
|1.25||0.78||Murray Street / Elder Street – no exit||Southbound entry only|
|1.52||0.94||Market Street||Northbound exit and southbound entry only|
|Perth, Vincent||West Perth||1.84||1.14||Charles Street (State Route 60) – North Perth, Yokine||Partial Y-Interchange: northbound exit and southbound entry only|
|Graham Farmer Freeway (State Route 8) – East Perth, Burswood, Perth Airport||Full Y-Interchange|
|2.00||1.24||Wellington Street – Perth City Centre,||Northbound entry and southbound exit only|
|2.10||1.30||Roe Street||Southbound exit only|
|2.28||1.42||Sutherland Street – no exit||Northbound entry only|
|Vincent Street / Lake Monger Drive (State Route 72) – Leederville, Wembley||Modified diamond interchange: southbound entry ramp looped, northbound exit ramp terminates at Southport Street; Provides access to/from Leederville Parade|
|Vincent, Cambridge, Stirling||5.10||3.17||Powis Street||Northbound exit and southbound entry only|
|Hutton Street||Local roads have T-Junction intersections with the northbound exit southbound entry ramps|
|Cedric Street (State Route 64) – Innaloo, Stirling||The entrance and exit ramps north of Cedric Street and south of Karrinyup Road merge, requiring traffic to weave|
|Karrinyup Road (State Route 76) – Karrinyup, Stirling|
|12.16||7.56||Erindale Road (State Route 77) – Balcatta, Gwelup||Northbound exit and southbound entry only|
|Reid Highway (State Route 3) – North Beach, Midland, Perth Airport||Modified diamond interchange: southbound entry ramp looped along with Reid-west to Mitchell-North; Provides access to/from Balcatta Road|
|Warwick Road (State Route 81) – Duncraig, Warwick||Weaving is required between Reid Highway and Warwick Road|
|Hepburn Avenue (State Route 82) – Sorrento, Ballajura, Hillarys Boat Harbour, Whiteman Park||Access to Greenwood railway station via southbound entry ramp|
|Whitfords Avenue (State Route 83) – Hillarys, Wangara||Access to Whitfords railway station via southbound entry ramp|
|Ocean Reef Road (State Route 84) – Edgewater, Ellenbrook, Ocean Reef|
|Shenton Avenue, Joondalup Health Campus|
|Burns Beach Road (State Route 87) – Burns Beach, Carramar, Bullsbrook|
|Neerabup Road - Neerabup, Clarkson|
|36.0||22.4||Hester Avenue -||Northern freeway terminus. Continuing northbound traffic uses Hester Avenue to link Marmion Avenue (State Route 71) to the west and Wanneroo Road (State Route 60) to the east.|
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