The first section of Melbourne's multi-billion dollar East West Link road project has been approved by Planning Minister Matthew Guy.
But with one significant change.
The $6-8 billion eastern section of the 18 kilometre road will no longer include an interchange that would have cut through the heritage-listed Royal Park.
Mr Guy said the axed Elliott Avenue interchange will be replaced by access to the existing arterial of Flemington Road, subject to further detailed design work.
Inner-Melbourne residents had feared Royal Park would be badly affected by the first stage of the project, which will connect the Eastern Freeway to CityLink and includes a tunnel underneath the park.
Mr Guy said approvals were subject to appropriate conditions, with development plans still to come, but major hurdles had been cleared.
"To put this in a very straight forward term, this is like approving the re-zoning and the application for the buildings are yet to come," Mr Guy told reporters on Monday.
The decision to scrap the Elliott Avenue interchange follows a recommendation from the project's assessment committee.
Mr Guy said the East West Link was a vital piece of infrastructure that wasn't just about getting people to work and to the city.
"It is about jobs and the way we live," Mr Guy said.
Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said the project had been botched.
"The route keeps changing, the details keep changing," he told Fairfax Radio.
The Greens said the government had rushed the approval process.
"While we disagree with this decision, it is clear that contracts will be rushed through in the near future," Green leader Greg Barber said.
"Now it is up to Daniel Andrews and the Labor Party to back up their rhetoric and commit to tearing up the contracts."
Work is expected to start at the end of the year.