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Pacific Motorway M1: Varsity Lakes (Exit 85) to Burleigh (Exit 87)


The Pacific Motorway (M1) Varsity Lakes to Tugun (VL2T) upgrade is currently being designed and will be delivered in packages. The 2km section between Varsity Lakes and Burleigh (Package A) is the first package to finalise the design and start construction.


Varsity Lakes (Exit 85) to Burleigh (Exit 87).


Each of the VL2T packages will provide additional capacity to meet traffic demands, reduce the duration of congestion and improve travel time reliability. Interchange works will improve access on and off the motorway and minimise the potential for traffic crashes on this southern section of the motorway.


$1.03 billion has been outlined in the Queensland Transport and Roads Investment Program 2019-20 to 2022-23 to progress the VL2T upgrade to construction, based on joint funding from the Australian and Queensland governments.

South Coast Region

Project info

Package A of the VL2T upgrade is the 2km section between Varsity Lakes (Exit 85) and Burleigh (Exit 87). This package, known as VL2B will:

  • widen the M1 to a minimum of 3 lanes in both directions
  • extend and relocate the Exit 85 northbound off-ramp by 250m
  • add a fourth northbound lane between Reedy Creek (Exit 85) and Burleigh (Exit 87)
  • install a new shared bike and pedestrian path on the western side of the motorway
  • construct a new Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) at Exit 87
  • install smart motorway technologies
  • replace the existing concrete road surface with stone mastic asphalt
  • preserve a corridor for a potential future rail extension.

Extend and relocate the Exit 85 northbound off-ramp

Currently the Exit 85 off-ramp at Reedy Creek joins the roundabout at Old Coach Road and Kingsmore Boulevard and this exit queues back onto the M1 during peak traffic times. The off-ramp will be extended by 250m to improve the safety of motorists and increase capacity on the off-ramp. The new off-ramp will connect directly to Old Coach Road, near Woodland Park, via a new signalised intersection.  

Extending and relocating the off-ramp will assist with traffic flows through the Old Coach Road/Kingsmore Boulevard roundabout as traffic exiting the M1 to travel north on Old Coach Road will no longer use the roundabout.

As a further benefit of relocating the off-ramp, a fourth northbound lane will be constructed on the motorway known as an auxiliary lane. This additional lane will link the northbound Exit 87 on-ramp to the Exit 85 off-ramp and will help minimise weaving and merging manoeuvres.

A new shared bike and pedestrian path

A new shared bike and pedestrian path, approximately 3 metres wide, will be constructed on the western side of the motorway. This new path will connect from the Burleigh (Exit 87) interchange, run adjacent to the northbound motorway lanes, and join the local bikeway network at the new Exit 85/Old Coach Road northbound off-ramp. A 1.8-metre high safety barrier will separate the new shared path from the motorway lanes.

Every trip made with active transport is a benefit, as it moves people towards healthier, more efficient and sustainable choices, reduces congestion and leaves room on our roads for freight, business and other trips.

In addition to the new shared bike and pedestrian path on the western side of the motorway between Exit 85 and Exit 87, significant active transport infrastructure is also included through the new DDI at Burleigh (Exit 87). Wider shared paths will feature across the DDI as well as a separated on-road bikeway.

These features provide greater active transport connections in all directions, especially to the main industrial and shopping centre hubs at Reedy Creek and Burleigh Waters, and will encourage more people to ride, walk and use other modes of active transport more often.

A new Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) at Exit 87

Exit 87 will soon be transformed using an innovative DDI, which will provide a new way of managing existing traffic volumes and increasing demands. This new configuration will improve safety and keep large traffic volumes moving quickly. 

The existing Burleigh Interchange at Exit 87 operates as a large roundabout, with motorists giving way to traffic already on the roundabout, which makes some movements congested during peak times. The current roundabout also has reduced visibility in some instances and is unable to positively cater for active transport users.

DDIs have been operating successfully in a number of countries throughout the world, with more than 60 implemented in the United States in the last decade. However, this type of interchange is relatively new to Australia, and Queensland is leading the way, with two already planned – on the Bruce Highway at Caloundra and on Gympie Arterial Road at Bald Hills. The DDI at Exit 87 will be the first of its kind on the Gold Coast.

The DDI boasts a number of benefits, including:

  • traffic movements from one side of the interchange to the other will be controlled by synchronised signals
  • a reduction in the number of traffic signals that would normally be required at such a busy interchange
  • a much safer and more efficient arrangement than the existing roundabout
  • improved active transport connections to and from Bermuda Street (Southport-Burleigh Road)
  • a compact design that uses a smaller footprint than traditional interchange designs.

A large number of vehicles turn right from the motorway northbound to Bermuda Street. The DDI will provide a major advantage for this movement as right-turning traffic does not have to cross opposing traffic when making a right-hand turn. The exit ramps operate in the same signal phase so road operators can ensure that queues will never extend back onto the M1.

The western side of the DDI will be constructed to enable a possible future connection direct to Old Coach Road.

Watch a video showing how the new DDI will operate.

Smart motorway technologies

Smart motorway technologies help to reduce 'stop-start' travel, improve safety and provide more predictable travel times for motorists. Smart motorway initiatives planned for the VL2B package include:

  • ramp signal metering
  • variable speed limit signs (VSLS)
  • additional CCTV cameras
  • vehicle detection equipment to measure and calculate traffic flow speed and consistency.

These initiatives allow proactive, real-time management of the motorway and connecting local roads.

Smart motorway technologies allow proactive, real-time management of the motorway and connecting local roads, with benefits including:

  • keeping the motorway traffic moving and delaying the onset of congestion by managing the volume of traffic entering the motorway at congestion points
  • providing safer merging conditions for motorists entering the motorway
  • reducing ‘stop-start’ travel for motorists and helping to improve travel time reliability
  • allowing a proactive and responsive approach to managing road network conditions and responding to congestion, incidents or bad weather in real time
  • optimising the performance of the motorway and maximising the motorway capacity.

Future rail extension

There is no funding to construct a rail extension at this stage, and the extension will not be constructed as part of the VL2T upgrade. The scope of the VL2T project includes continuing to protect the future rail corridor – this means any construction works completed as part of the upgrade between Varsity Lakes and Tugun must consider the possible future rail extension. 

In 2005, the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) identified a possible corridor to extend heavy rail south of Robina to Tugun, with the first stage between Robina and Varsity Lakes built in 2009. Further investigations were conducted in 2009 as part of a wider Robina to Tugun Rail Impact Assessment Study that considered technical, environmental, social and economic impacts on a preferred rail alignment. As a result of the 2009 study, the current alignment was protected from future development.

For further information on the passenger railway corridor, the TMR Rail Planning team can be contacted on

More information on the Robina to Tugun Rail Impact Assessment Study

Frequently asked questions

Key milestones

  • During 2019: Design underway
  • Mid-2019: Business case approved by Infrastructure Australia
  • Late 2019: Community information sessions held
  • May 2020: Construction will start on Package A Varsity Lakes to Burleigh
  • Late 2022: Construction on Package A expected to finish.

Keep up to date

Residents and motorists are encouraged to subscribe to the free email and SMS traffic alert update service for this project. Register with TMR on the below contact details.

Contact details

Email: ( )
Phone: 1800 799 824 (Press 1 for Package A)
Fax: 07 5563 6611

Latest info

Construction contract awarded for Package A

A construction contract has now been awarded to Seymour Whyte Constructions (SWC) to start Package A motorway widening works.

SWC plans to start on-site activities towards the end of April/early May 2020.

Community info

Have your say

Your feedback is important. If you missed the project team at the community information sessions in mid-November 2019, contact us on the details above to ask any questions and provide feedback.

Media gallery

Drivethrough video: Varsity Lakes to Burleigh (Package A)


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Last updated
20 May 2020