A long-awaited elevated road network at Melbourne Airport has received a major boost, with the Federal Government approving plans for the first stage.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack, approved the airport’s Major Development Plan (MDP) for the airport’s T4 Express Link, which will provide a direct link from the Tullamarine Freeway into the multimodal transport hub and carpark opposite Terminal 4.

The Express Link will allow drivers heading to the T4 transport hub to bypass at least two intersections, meaning faster direct access from the Tullamarine Freeway.

When complete the link will connect through to a new Transport Hub in the Terminal 1, 2, 3 carpark, removing cars from the congested entry ramp and Airport Drive, improving traffic, particularly during morning peak.

Melbourne Airport Chief Commercial Officer Landside Access, Lorie Argus, said the project was indicative of how the airport was evolving to meet the changing needs of passengers, airport workers and the local community.

“This project is a major congestion-buster and when complete will deliver a huge change in how passengers experience their drop off at Melbourne Airport,” Ms Argus said.

“Forty percent of travellers are picked up or dropped off in the free public lanes of the forecourt. Another 13 per cent use one of our precinct carparks, meaning when we have the complete road in place, we’ll be removing more than half the traffic volume from the Centre Road intersection with Departures Drive.

“That will deliver massive savings in travel time for passengers heading to their flights, as well as for the tens of thousands of people who work at the airport every day. Local residents should also notice a dramatic change to both the number of cars and the way they move around the airport, freeing up local roads for the people who most need them,” Ms Argus said.

Mr McCormack said when complete, this project will cut travel times and traffic congestion for millions of passengers travelling through Melbourne Airport every year.

“Melbourne Airport has listened to passenger concerns and is addressing them by planning for the sustainable long-term growth of the state’s premier air gateway,” Mr McCormack said.

“The new access road, which is expected to have the first stage completed within 15 months, will also provide a benefit to residents and commuters in the surrounding area.”

Around $350m is expected to be invested in the elevated road network, delivered in three stages between 2019 and 2023. Stage 1, the T4 Express Link is shovel-ready with work expected to begin before the end of calendar year 2019.