11 May 2022

We’re fixing the missing link between the M80 Ring Road and an upgraded Eastern Freeway – reducing travel times by up to 35 minutes and taking 15,000 trucks off local roads a day.

We’ve listened to what people had to say through the Environment Effects Statement (EES) process. In late 2021 we released a project design with longer 6.5km tunnels to Watsonia, simpler interchanges and 50 MCGs of open space across the entire North East Link Program.

We also appointed Spark, a team of some of the best builders in Australia and around the world, to build the North East Link Tunnels from Watsonia to Bulleen.

Before we get major construction underway, we’re exhibiting an Urban Design and Landscape Plan to ask the community what they think of the look and feel of what’s planned for their area. This includes new parklands, wetlands, bike and walking paths and improvements to local roads.

North East Link near you

  • 6.5km longer tunnel
  • 2 hectare Yarra Link green bridge
  • 3 new wetlands
  • 7km of walking and cycling paths
  • 2,890+ new trees planted

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The North East Link Tunnels will take traffic and trucks under instead of through our suburbs and give local roads back to local people. We’re also creating new wetlands and parklands, better connecting Koonung Creek and Yarra River trails and delivering a major upgrade of the Eastern Freeway.

See the map on the factsheet for more details.

Longer North East Link Tunnels

In response to community feedback we’ve extended the North East Link Tunnels by building an extra 1.9km using tunnel boring machines (TBMs). The TBMs will now travel further south under Manningham Road, avoiding the need for construction work at Banksia Park.

Simpler Manningham Road interchange

Better ramp locations at the Manningham Road interchange will shift 14,700 vehicles a day off Bulleen Road and into the North East Link tunnels. The simpler ramp layout avoids the historic River Red Gum on Bridge Street, reduces impacts on Bulleen Art & Garden and opens up more land for future development.

If you live in the local area and want to use the North East Link Tunnels, ramps at Manningham Road will connect you to the Eastern Freeway. Ramps at Thompsons Road will connect you to the M80 Ring Road.

Eastern Freeway interchange

Existing connections between the Eastern Freeway, Thompsons Road and Bulleen Road will be kept. New ramps will connect the Eastern Freeway to the North East Link Tunnels.

Yarra Link green bridge

A 2-hectare green bridge over Bulleen Road will link Koonung Creek Trail to Bulleen Park for the first time. The bridge will be planted with indigenous trees, grasses and shrubs. Pockets of open space will provide a bike and walking trail, fitness station and places to stop, rest and enjoy views of the Yarra River.

New Yarra River and Koonung Creek wetlands

Three new wetlands will be created and connected with paths and trails including:

  • an expansive new 1,800m2 wetland along the Yarra River in Bulleen, re-establishing a significant cultural landscape for the Wurundjeri people and creating an Indigenous knowledge-sharing precinct for Melbourne
  • new wetlands and paths along Koonung Creek in Bulleen
  • new wetlands and BBQ area at Koonung Creek Reserve in Balwyn North.

Motorway Control Centre

The centre will monitor traffic conditions, store maintenance vehicles and be a 5 Star Green Star building.

Tunnel ventilation structure

The design is inspired by traditional Wurundjeri eel traps. Solar panels will help power the tunnels below.

North East Trail

The North East Trail through Bulleen and Balwyn North will deliver 7km of new and upgraded walking and cycling paths including:

  • an upgraded Koonung Creek Trail in Balwyn North with new crossings under Bulleen Road
  • a new bridge over the Eastern Freeway at Bulleen Road
  • a shared use path on the east side of Bulleen Road, a footpath on the west side and on-road cycle lanes in both directions
  • new paths from Bulleen Road through to Yarra River parklands
  • new signalised crossings along Bulleen Road, at Manningham Road and Templestowe Road.

Eastern Express Busway

The Eastern Express Busway from Doncaster towards the city is Melbourne’s first dedicated busway. High-speed bus lanes will pass under the Eastern Freeway interchange ramps at up to 100km an hour. Work to build the new Bulleen Park & Ride is underway now.

Tree planting program

To build the North East Link Tunnels and Eastern Freeway Upgrades trees will need to be removed while we’re working at the surface. This will help create space to build a section of tunnel under sports fields along the east side of Bulleen Road, the tunnel portal and connections to the Eastern Freeway.

For every tree removed, at least 2 will be planted including extensive indigenous planting at the new wetlands, across the Yarra Link green bridge and at Koonung Creek Reserve.

  • 2,890+ new trees will be planted in Bulleen and Balwyn North for North East Link

Building Victoria’s longest road tunnels

While we’re refining the design through the Urban Design and Landscape Plan (UDLP), you’ll see us out and about getting ready for major tunnelling works to begin later this year.

This will involve:

  • geotechnical investigations and site surveys
  • setting up construction compounds
  • beginning to prepare for tunnelling along the east side of Bulleen Road.

Builders for the Eastern Freeway Upgrades and Eastern Express Busway will be brought on board progressively from 2023, with construction expected to start from 2024.

Designing the tunnel alignment

We’re working on the best route for the tunnel boring machines to take beneath the Yarra River and parklands and will be out talking to residents who will have the tunnel near them later this year..

Key dates

Early 2022

  • site investigations and surveys

Mid 2022

  • construction compounds established

Late 2022

  • work to prepare for tunnelling works on the east side of Bulleen Road begins


  • North East Link tunnel excavation starts on the east side of Bulleen Road Manningham Road interchange construction starts


  • North East Link opens to traffic

Visit our website for more information about works in your area and to sign up for regular updates.

Help shape designs for your local area

The Urban Design and Landscape Plan for the North East Link Tunnels and connecting Eastern Freeway upgrades in Bulleen and Balwyn North is on exhibition now.

The UDLP has detailed maps and drawings of the project design and an explanation of how it meets strict requirements in place for North East Link.

Making a submission is your opportunity to have a say on local elements for your area including new parklands, wetlands, walking and cycling paths and improvements to local roads.

We’ll be using what we hear to finalise the UDLP before submitting it to the Minister for Planning later this year for approval and getting major construction underway.

Where to see the plan

You can find out more about the UDLP and see a copy online from Wednesday 11 May to Tuesday 31 May 2022 at Engage Victoria or visit a display and talk with our team at:

Watsonia Community Information Hub

17 Watsonia Road, Watsonia

  • Visit during our regular opening hours, or drop in this May on a Thursday night or Saturday.
  • Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm (10am to 7pm Thursdays)
  • Saturday, 10am to 2pm

Veneto Club

191 Bulleen Road, Bulleen

  • Saturday 14 May, 21 May and 28 May, 10am to 2pm

You can also view the UDLP at local council offices and libraries. To find a location near you visit Engage Victoria.

How to make a submission

Make your submission online at Engage Victoria by 5pm, Tuesday 31 May 2022.

If you need help accessing the UDLP, or to make a submission, please contact us on 1800 105 105 or at community@northeastlink.vic.gov.au

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