28 March 2022

Tunnel construction starts this year

The North East Link Tunnels from Watsonia to Bulleen will finally fix the missing link in Melbourne’s freeway network – slashing travel times and taking trucks off local roads.

In late 2021, we released an updated project design with longer 6.5km tunnels, simpler underground interchanges, a new tree-lined Greensborough Road boulevard and 50 MCGs of open space.

We also appointed Spark – a team of some of the best builders in Australia and around the world – to get construction for the tunnels underway.

Over the coming months, we’ll be out doing geotechnical investigations in Watsonia, Yallambie and Bulleen and starting to prepare key work sites in readiness for major tunnelling construction.

You’ll also be able to see and comment on the look and feel of the design for your local area.

We’ll be keeping you up to date as we move closer to works starting and releasing more details about how you can be involved in the project design.

Fast facts:

  • 15,000 trucks off local roads a day
  • 35 minutes slashed off a trip from the Eastern Freeway to the Ring Road
  • 18 traffic lights skipped
  • 10,000 new jobs for Victorians

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What we’re building

Longer tunnels to Watsonia have created more space for new parklands, bike and walking paths and better local roads.

  • Victoria's longest road tunnels
  • new tree-lined Greensborough Road boulevard
  • a simpler Lower Plenty Road interchange
  • 5 MCGs of new community parklands at Borlase Reserve
  • a simpler Manningham Road interchange
  • a new cultural precinct for Melbourne along the banks of the Yarra River
  • a new Bulleen Road with safer access to schools, playing fields and sports clubs
  • a new Yarra Link green bridge connecting Koonung Creek Trail to Yarra River parklands

Help shape designs for your local area

In coming months, we’ll be out in the community asking what you think about the look and feel of the design for North East Link from Watsonia to Bulleen.

You’ll be able to see detailed maps and drawings and provide feedback on new and returned parklands, wetlands, walking and cycling bridges and improvements we’re making to local roads.

More information about how you can get involved in the Urban Design and Landscape Plan is coming soon.

Builders to deliver the other key elements of North East Link, including completing the Ring Road in Greensborough, and upgrading the Eastern Freeway, will start to come on board from next year.

Now we have an overall design for the tunnels, you may see some of our team out and about surveying utilities, local roads and vegetation and doing geotechnical investigations. The information collected will get us ready to start construction this year, including planning our construction schedule and activities.

How we'll build the North East Link Tunnels

While most of the work will happen deep underground, there will be works at the surface at Watsonia, Macleod, Yallambie, Rosanna and Bulleen.

At the northern end of the tunnel, we'll be launching and operating the tunnel boring machines and managing the soil removed nearby at Winsor Reserve in Macleod.

We'll also be working along Greensborough Road to build the new tree-lined boulevard, a tunnel ventilation structure, the Lower Plenty Road interchange and new Borlase Reserve parklands.

In Bulleen we'll be building the Manningham Road interchange, the new Bulleen Road, a tunnel ventilation structure, the new Yarra Link green bridge and Eastern Freeway interchange.

Work areas will start being established around mid-2022, with some changes to traffic on Bulleen Road, Bulleen and Greensborough Road, Watsonia.

Setting up some of the compounds needed for site offices and storing equipment will begin towards the end of autumn.

We’ll then be out talking to residents who will have the tunnel near them later this year.

We’ll be keeping the local community up to date as we move closer to getting these works underway, and our community engagement team will be out and about talking to nearby residents.

Leaving a green legacy

To build the North East Link Tunnels, underground interchanges and upgrade local roads, trees and vegetation will need to be removed while we’re working at the surface.

We’ll work hard to keep trees where we can and are designing the project to maximise opportunities for new trees to be planted – including new parklands along Banyule Creek and the Yarra River and 700 new trees for the new Greensborough Road boulevard.

We’ll be planting at least 2 trees for every 1 removed, and have started early.

At least 30,000 trees will be planted across the entire North East Link Program, helping to grow a greener north and east.

We're hiring

The North East Link Program is set to create 10,000 jobs, with around 8000 jobs on the North East Link Tunnels alone.

We’re recruiting now for people to help us plan, design and build this massive project.

Jobs are available across engineering, sustainability, commercial and community engagement, along with opportunities for apprentices, trainees and cadets to kick-start their careers.

We’re also keen to hear from local contractors who want to supply goods and services.

To find out more, visit our jobs page.

Our Watsonia Hub and Skills & Job Centre is open. Come see us about the project and jobs at 17 Watsonia Road, Watsonia. We are open Monday to Friday from 10am to 5pm.

This information is current at the time of publication, however changes may occur. Please visit our website for the latest updates.