Australia's route numbering for the future!

An example of Victorian alpha-numeric signage on the Princes Highway, Trafalgar. Photo thanks to Viseth Uch, taken Dec 2004.

Alpha-numeric route numbers are the new standard route numbering system for Australia. Loosely based on the British system, this system has officially been adopted on principle by all the state road authorities. Its a fairly easy system to use, with the letter prefix indicating a combination of the importance and the standard of the route, the number just being for navigational purposes. Austroads has set the standard for rural alpha-numeric standards and it is up to the discretion of the respective road authority. The standard is1:

M Routes
These are divided carriageway roads, generally forming part of the main links between capital cities, or from a capital city to a key regional centre. All Freeways and Motorways should be designated as M Roads.
A Routes
These would be expected to form the principal routes within regions that are not of M Road standard. They would be expected to form links between capital cities or provide the connections between key regional centres or between key centres and capital cities.
B Routes
These would be expected to form the primary connections between major regions not served by A Routes.
C Routes
These are the other routes in the arterial network

The alpha-numeric system of route marking was first introduced by Tasmania in 1979-80. The only route not converted is the National Highway 1, as the Tasmanian Government's request to change it was denied by the Federal Government who required that the National Highway be signed with the green and gold National Highway shield. During the 1990's Victoria planned their change to alpha-numeric numbering and Austroads, the conference between all state road authorities, made it official in May 1997, announcing that all transport ministers had agreed to the conversion to alpha-numeric routes. Austroads also recognised that there would be differences in classifications between states and that a classification length may contain isolated sections that are substandard and will be addressed in the future.

Austroads, in conjunction with transport ministers, produced the following numbering regime. Unfortunately though, unlike NAASRA, Austroads has no authority to enforce these guidelines and it is up to the various state road authorities to abide by them of their own good will.

The various states and territories are at different stages of their conversions to alpha-numeric numbering. This table profiles where each state is up to. Additionally, you can read more detailed information on the route numbering page of the respective states or territories.

Confirmation has been received from the ACT that conversion to alpha-numeric route marking will proceed once it is implemented in NSW. Plans were released via NSW Roads & Maritime Services were released on 27 September 2012. More info HERE.
To be completed by the end of 2013.
The alpha-numeric route marking scheme was officially announced on 27 September 2012. More information available HERE.
Implemention is underway and scheduled for completion in early 2014.
N.T. has commenced the conversion on a 'progressive replacement' basis - i.e. when signs are replaced, alpha-numeric route markers are used on the new signs.
There is no timeframe for completion of the scheme. Without a specific funding injection for new signs, it is unlikely that conversion will be completed in the foreseeable future.
Queensland's first alpha-numeric route, the M1, was signposted in October 2000 with the opening of the Pacific Motorway. A number of routes have since followed, the latest being M5. The official plans for alpha-numeric routes only contained a total of 7 routes, so it is unclear how the rest of the state's routes will be accommodated into this system.
It has taken QDMR 6 years to signpost the first handful of routes so I wouldnt expect a completion date any time soon.
South Australia commenced their conversion in 1998/99 and while metropolitan Adelaide has been completed, there remains many signs to be replaced in rural areas. Many new routes are only haphazardly signposted as the project seems to have suffered from a lack of funding and personnel. In 2011 and 2012 a large number of additional signs appear to have been installed as part of the rural addressing scheme.
Implementation is probably considered as complete by the DTEI, however as at 2013 some routes are still missing route markers on signs.
Tasmania was the first state to adopt this system way back in 1979/80. However, they were required to retain the National Highway shield for the National Highway route. Despite the demise of the National Highway system, there are no immdeiate plans to convert this route to an alpha-numeric route.
Completed in 1983.
Victoria began their conversion in 1995/96, with a trial in the north eastern region of Victoria. The major interstate routes followed and the last rural route was signposted in 2003. Metropolitan Melbourne still retains its metro routes as there is no funding for conversion and some from Vicroads wish to keep the metro routes for navigation purposes.
Rural areas and major metropolitan through routes completed largely by 2000. The final rural route was signed in 2003.
Western Australia has looked at converting to the alpha-numeric style in recent years, however due to funding constraints no changes will proceed in the foreseeable future.
Not in the foreseeable future.

1. Austroads, Towards a Nationally Consistent Approach to Route Numbering, 2003, pg. 4

Last updated 27 July 2013
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