The Albany Ring Road is on the home straight with work under way on the third and final 6km stretch between South Coast Highway and Princess Royal Drive. Construction of the long-awaited second stage of the ring road started in September 2020 — 13 years after the completion of the first stage in 2007. Transport Minister Rita Saffioti announced on Wednesday that the second stage — which includes the Great Southern’s first grade-separated interchange at Albany Highway and Menang Drive — was due to open to traffic in April. She said the ring road was the biggest infrastructure project ever undertaken in the region. “When complete, the Albany Ring Road will take heavy vehicles away from the town centre, better support local businesses and improve commute times through the city,” she said. “It will provide certainty for Albany Port users and open up new economic opportunities to the north and west of the city, while also taking heavy vehicles out of residential areas and away from the centre of town.” Stages two and three, which have received $175 million in Federal and State funding, will complete a project designed to take heavy vehicles off residential roads and provide a direct freight route to Albany port. Preparation works including fencing, topsoil removal and seed collecting have been under way for the past month to make way for the final stage between Lancaster Road and Princess Royal Drive. It will include a new interchange allowing access between George Street and South Coast Highway, a bridge linking Hanrahan Road and Frenchman Bay Road, and new roundabouts to the north and south of the interchange. Phase two designs were reworked to avoid impacting heritage-listed World War II fuel tanks to the north of the ring road, and reduce the overall vegetation clearing requirements by almost 50 per cent, according to the State Government. Link Road between Lancaster Road and South Coast Highway was temporarily closed in February for the construction of new access ramps for the South Coast Highway interchange. Phase two is expected to be completed in early 2024.