THE $200 million Western Highway Anthony’s Cutting realignment will open to traffic today, nine months ahead of schedule.Politicians and grateful locals converged on the site yesterday for a community open day to celebrate the completion of the project.The newly-built five kilometre stretch of the Western Highway will eliminate the tight curves and low-speed section through Anthony’s Cutting, which has had 21 casualty crashes over the past five years.More than 29,000 vehicles, including more than 4000 freight vehicles, travel the highway section daily.Victorian Minister for Roads Terry Mulder joined Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure and Transport and Ballarat MP Catherine King in opening the new connection.“This is a significant achievement,” Mr Mulder said.“There has been a history of crashes through this difficult stretch of road (and) the new freeway will provide safer road conditions and ... reduce travel times and transport costs.”The new five-kilometre stretch is a more direct alignment of the Western Highway and will eventually enjoy a 110km/h speed limit.The new road surface requires temporary speed restrictions during the first seven to 10 days of use to condition the road, before the final 110km/h limit is introduced. A final seal will be placed on the road in early 2012. Ms King said the opening was great news for everyone who travels the Western Highway between Melton, Bacchus Marsh and Ballarat. “It is remarkable that the project has taken only 18 months to complete with the new alignment opening to traffic nine months ahead of schedule,” she said. “This has been made possible thanks to the funding brought forward by the federal government as part of the Economic Stimulus Plan and the swift progression is a credit to the project team and all the crew involved.”Construction work will now take place on the old Western Highway (Anthony’s Cutting) to connect Bacchus Marsh Road in Bacchus Marsh to High Street in Melton. As a result sections of the old Western Highway will be closed.