Graham Farmer Freeway

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Graham Farmer Freeway

Graham Farmer Freeway tunnel east.jpg
Eastern tunnel entry near Lord Street
Graham Farmer Freeway
General information
Type Freeway
Length6.4 km (4.0 mi)
Route number(s)
Major junctions
West end
East end
Major suburbs / towns West Perth, Northbridge, East Perth, Highgate , Burswood
Highway system

Graham Farmer Freeway is a 6.4-kilometre (4.0 mi) inner-city freeway in Perth, Western Australia. It links Rivervale and Burswood with West Perth and Leederville, providing an east-west bypass of Perth's central business district.


The freeway, in conjunction with Great Eastern Highway and Orrong Road, is also an important connection between the city centre and Perth Airport. It is allocated State Route 8, and was named in honour of the Australian rules footballer, Graham "Polly" Farmer, who played between 1953 and 1971 in both the West Australian and Victorian Football Leagues.

Route description

Driving through the Graham Farmer Freeway tunnel eastbound in 2020
Driving through the Graham Farmer Freeway tunnel westbound in 2013

Western terminus

The freeway's western terminus is a hybrid interchange, combining a Full Y interchange with the Mitchell Freeway, an exit to James Street, and an entrance ramp from and exit ramp to Loftus Street. The interchange also incorporates a partial Y interchange that connects Charles Street to the Mitchell Freeway. This is known as the Hamilton Interchange.

Northbridge Tunnel

Immediately east of the interchange is the Northbridge Tunnel, Western Australia's only freeway tunnel. The 1.6-kilometre (1 mi) tunnel has three traffic lanes in each direction, with an escape passageway between the carriageways. The tunnel is colloquially known as the "Polly Pipe", a reference not only to the freeway's namesake, but also to the colloquialism "Poly Pipe" in reference to plastic pipes (commonly made from polyethylene or polyvinyl chloride materials) used in reticulation and plumbing. [1] Both tunnel portals feature public art installations. At the western end, there is a pictorial history of Northbridge, and at the eastern end, the Aboriginal artist Ron Corbett created images based on indigenous artwork. The transportation of dangerous goods and explosives through the freeway tunnel is prohibited. [2]

Perth City exits

At the eastern end of the tunnel is the diamond interchange with East Parade, which connects the freeway to East Perth. The East Parade exit ramps allow traffic movements to the opposite entrance ramp, as the westbound entrance ramp also connects to Lord Street, whilst the eastbound exit ramp merges with a ramp from Lord Street. This allows a connection between the city centre and the freeway, via Lord Street.

Windan Bridge

The freeway then crosses the Swan River over the 406-metre (1,332 ft), six lane Windan Bridge. [3] [4] [5] The bridge is one of the more recent constructions of the 19 bridges that cross the river. It includes pedestrian and cycling access. [6]


Graham Farmer Freeway continues into Burswood as a six lane freeway. There is a diamond interchange with Victoria Park Drive for access to the adjacent Belmont Park Racecourse, and the nearby Optus Stadium and Crown Perth complex. The eastern terminus is a modified diamond interchange with Great Eastern Highway, that includes a looped ramp for the south-westbound to north-eastbound traffic movement. The freeway continues south-east as Orrong Road, an arterial road that is also part of State Route 8.


Graham Farmer Freeway was constructed between 1996 and 2000, and used over 180,000 cubic metres of concrete. The project finished three months early and within budget, costing $313 million. It has been designed to have a 150-year lifespan, following the Main Roads Western Australia specification.

Stage 1 involved construction of the tunnel and was undertaken by a Clough/Baulderstone Hornibrook joint venture, [7] was a finalist for the 2001 Australian Construction Achievement Award. [8]

Stage 2 included the Windan Bridge, and nine other traffic and pedestrian bridge structures. This stage won an award from Austroads, the Association of Australian and New Zealand Road Transport and Traffic Authorities. [9]

2013 tunnel expansion

During several weekend closures in April 2013, the existing breakdown shoulders were removed to accommodate an extra lane of traffic in each direction, without modifying the tunnel's structure. [10] The removal of the breakdown lanes was criticised by the state Opposition, and the RAC raised concerns about emergency response times. [11] As part of the upgrade, Main Roads Western Australia implemented an incident response plan, including a dedicated towing service, and the fire control and ventilation systems were upgraded. [10] The new eastbound lane opened on 16 April, a day after it was originally scheduled to open, due to delays in commissioning the new lane use management system. [12] [13] The third westbound lane opened on 29 April, as scheduled. [14] The works were designed to improve the traffic flow in the Perth CBD, which was affected by construction projects such as the development of Elizabeth Quay.

Exits and interchanges

Perth, Vincent West Perth 0–
Australian state route 2.svg Mitchell Freeway (State Route 2) Joondalup, Perth City Full Y-Interchange
0.70.43Australian state route 61.svg Loftus Street (State Route 61) West Perth Eastbound entrance and westbound exit only. Ramps continue from/to local roads
Perth Northbridge 1.00.62James Street  Northbridge Westbound exit only
Perth, Vincent Northbridge, Perth 1.0–
Northbridge Tunnel
Perth 2.61.6Australian state route 51.svg Lord Street (State Route 51) Perth City Centre, Mount Lawley
Newcastle Street  Northbridge
Eastbound entrance and westbound exit only, via East Parade ramps. Eastbound entrance continues from Parry Street
East Perth 3.32.1Australian state route 66.svg East Parade (State Route 66) East Perth, Mount Lawley
Perth, Vincent, Victoria Park East Perth, Burswood 3.7–
Windan Bridge (over the Swan River)
Victoria Park Burswood 4.5–
Victoria Park Drive  Burswood
Victoria Park, Belmont Burswood, Lathlain, Rivervale 6.44.0Australian national highway 94.svgAustralian national route 1.svgWestern Australia MR-SM-11.svg Great Eastern Highway (National Highway 94 / National Route 1)  Midland, Fremantle , Perth Airport Continues south-east as Orrong Road (State Route 8); Modified diamond interchange: additional north-westbound looped entrance ramp
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also

Notes and references

Route map:

KML file (edithelp)
    KML is from Wikidata
    1. Hyde, John; Hansard [ permanent dead link ]; 2002-05-08
    2. Explosay Issue Number 25 (Sept 2000) Archived 18 July 2005 at the Wayback Machine ISSN   1038-7099 (PDF) Retrieved 13 August 2006.
    3. "Motorists flock to try out new freeway.(Local)", The Australian (National, Australia), News Limited: 005, 25 April 2000, retrieved 21 January 2012
    4. Windan Bridge. Named after the wife of Yallgunga, the head of the Mooro tribe which controlled the northern end of the Swan River in 1833. Geographic name approvals in Western Australia, Jan./Mar. 2000, p.31
    5. Minister names new bridge over Swan River, named Windan Bridge after the wife of Yallgunga, .Media statement, Minister for Transport, 9/4/2000
    7. Graham Farmer Freeway - Perth
    8. Graham Farmer Freeway Stage One Archived 29 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 13 August 2006.
    9. Graham Farmer Freeway Bridges - Winner category 2 Austroads Archived 9 March 2006 at the Wayback Machine PDF. Retrieved 13 August 2006.
    10. 1 2 "FAQ's - Graham Farmer Freeway Tunnel & Mitchell Freeway Widening". Main Roads Western Australia. September 2012. Archived from the original on 8 November 2012. Retrieved 20 October 2012.
    11. Massey, Alex; Harvey, Ben (17 February 2011). "Waterfront traffic woes surface". The West Australian. Retrieved 20 October 2012.
    12. "Northbridge tunnel open, but not yet three lanes". Perth Now. April 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
    13. "Third lane opens in Northbridge Tunnel eastbound". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. April 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
    14. "Westbound section of Northbridge tunnel opens". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. April 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2013.

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