1 February 2023

Design update - February 2023

Fixing the missing link between the M80 Ring Road and an upgraded Eastern Freeway 

The North East Link Tunnels will slash travel times by up to 35 minutes and take 15,000 trucks off local roads a day.

We’ve listened to what people had to say and are building longer 6.5km tunnels to Watsonia, simpler interchanges and 50 MCGs of open space across the entire North East Link Program.

In late 2021 we 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.

This includes Victoria's longest road tunnels, interchanges at Lower Plenty Road and Manningham Road, new parklands, wetlands, bike and walking paths and improvements to local roads.

Visit the project team at the Watsonia Hub, 17 Watsonia Road. Find us on Google maps.

North East Link near you

  • 6.5km longer tunnel
  • 2km boulevard for Greensborough Road
  • 5 MCGs of community parklands
  • 3.4km of walking and cycling paths
  • 1950+ new trees planted

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 building new parklands, better walking and cycling paths and transforming Greensborough Road into a tree-lined boulevard.

North East Link Tunnels

In response to community feedback through the project's planning approvals, we're building longer tunnels to Watsonia – tunnelling an extra 1.9km using tunnel boring machines (TBMs) to keep more works underground.

Lower Plenty Road interchange

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

Greensborough Road boulevard

With less trucks and congestion, Greensborough Road will be a better road for local trips and to live on. We’re using space created by the longer tunnels to:

  • rebuild 2km as a tree-lined boulevard with avenues of eucalyptus trees and a 10m-wide median
  • create a new, 5m-wide service road for safer and easier access to homes, more space for walking and cycling paths and on-street parking for residents and visitors
  • 6 new and upgraded intersections and crossings will make Greensborough Road safer and easier to use.

We’re also delivering the better east-west access people asked for with:

  • upgraded intersections at Erskine Road and Yallambie Road
  • new intersections at Finlayson Street and Fairlie Avenue/ Blamey Road
  • an extra lane in each direction to reduce queuing at lights.

Borlase Reserve parklands

As part of the Lower Plenty Road interchange design we're building 5 MCGs of new parklands along Banyule Creek, including a major expansion of Borlase Reserve to the north with space to:

  • revitalise 1.2km of Banyule Creek as a nature and habitat corridor with wetlands, paths and boardwalks
  • build pockets of new open space, a nature playground, BBQ areas, a half basketball court, drinking fountains, public toilets, bicycle parking and seats
  • plant more than 100 different species of indigenous trees, grasses, shrubs and flowers, including from seeds collected in the local area
  • a wildlife crossing under Lower Plenty Road will connect Borlase Reserve to Banyule Flats.

Tunnel ventilation structure

The design for the ventilation structure is inspired by traditional Wurundjeri eel traps and surrounded by new trees and plants. Solar panels on the sides will help power the tunnels below.

North East Trail

The North East Trail through Watsonia, Macleod, Yallambie and Rosanna will deliver 3.4km of new and upgraded walking and cycling paths including:

  • a new bridge over Lower Plenty Road to Banyule Flats and Yarra River parklands designed to represent an iuk (eel) swimming in a river
  • wide, shady paths along both sides of Greensborough Road with four fitness stations
  • 6 signalised Greensborough Road crossings including at Moorwatha Street through to Macleod Station
  • a 2.2km on-road cycle lane on Greensborough Road.

See the map on the factsheet (PDF, 2.2 MB) for more details.

Tree planting program

For every tree removed to build North East Link, at least two will be planted including extensive planting along the new Greensborough Road boulevard, at the new Borlase Reserve parklands and to revitalise Banyule Creek where land used for construction will be returned to the local community.

  • 1950+ new trees will be planted for the North East Link Tunnels in Watsonia, Macleod, Yallambie and Rosanna

Community feedback shaping your local area

More than 15,900 pieces of community feedback since 2017, including over 870 submissions on the project’s Environment Effects Statement, have helped develop the design for North East Link.

In 2022 we exhibited an Urban Design and Landscape Plan for the North East Link Tunnels and asked local people to provide feedback on the design for their local area. In response to feedback received we’re:

  • planting more trees and plants to help screen views of the tunnel ventilation structure
  • installing a high-quality fence to provide more privacy for residents on the east side of Borlase Reserve
  • looking at where we can include more trees and plants at Borlase Reserve to provide additional privacy for residents and habitat for wildlife
  • building a wildlife crossing under Lower Plenty Road between Borlase Reserve and Banyule Flats
  • keeping a short section of Banyule Creek underground where it passes behind the tunnel ventilation structure and space is limited to deliver a better outcome for the overall health of the creek and create more space for trees and plants
  • building better connections to Borlase Reserve by bike and on foot using the Iuk (eel) bridge over Lower Plenty Road with wider paths on the north side, and a better landing point on the south side
  • providing the community with more information about how the tunnel ventilation structures will be designed, safely maintained, and operated to meet strict air quality requirements.

Find more information about what we heard in submissions and the changes made in response.

Building Victoria’s longest road tunnels

While most of the work to build the North East Link Tunnels will happen deep underground, major works are needed at the surface to launch and operate the tunnel boring machines (TBMs), build the Lower Plenty Road interchange, tunnel ventilation structure and new Greensborough Road boulevard.

The TBMs will be launched and operated from the start of the tunnel in Watsonia, with a supporting compound at Winsor Reserve in Macleod to manage the dirt excavated.

The Lower Plenty Road interchange ramps will be built using a method called cut and cover. A deep area will be excavated to build the tunnel and connecting ramps, then covered over when finished.

We'll be keeping the local community up to date on works in your area as we build the North East Link Tunnels.

North East Link Program

The North East Link Tunnels are just one part of the biggest ever investment in Melbourne's north east.

We're also completing the Ring Road in Greensborough, overhauling the Eastern Freeway, building Melbourne's first dedicated busway and the North East Trail – more than 34km of new and upgraded bike and walking paths.

This massive program of works is being carefully planned so the whole project can open around the same time in 2027/2028 - bringing all the pieces of North East Link together.

See the project timeline on the factsheet (PDF, 2.2 MB) for more details.

Key dates

Early 2022

  • site investigations and surveys

Mid 2022

  • work to prepare the TBM launch area begins

Late 2022

  • work to prepare Lower Plenty Road interchange begins


  • tunnel boring begins


  • North East Link opens to traffic

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