It’s been another big year for the North East Link Program.
We’ve made progress setting up our construction sites ready for major tunnelling works and have started piling at the tunnel boring machine (TBM) launch area in Watsonia.
We asked the community for feedback on the design for the North East Link Tunnels in their local area, continued our tree planting program with over 2000 trees now planted, sports clubs have enjoyed new fields and facilities, and we’ve awarded $1.6 million of grants as part of the inaugural North East Community Fund.
This year we:
Completed early works
We finished moving almost 100 above and underground services to make way for North East Link. As part of early works, we moved 4km of sewer pipes, 2.7km of power lines, 2.6km of gas pipes, 2.6km of water pipes, 2 high voltage towers and a mobile phone tower. We also started getting work sites ready to support the next stage of construction – building the North East Link Tunnels.
Planted hundreds of trees and plants
As part of our massive tree planting program, we’ve planted more than 2000 trees so far in and around the project area and continued work to increase the number of significant species in Melbourne’s north east. More than 100 Matted Flax-lilies have been planted in Macleod with more to come for the local area soon.
We also gifted 25 local schools and early learning centres Greener North East vouchers for trees, plants and supplies to create their own green spaces.
Asked locals for feedback on urban design and landscaping
Earlier this year, we asked the local community to share their thoughts on the Urban Design and Landscape Plan (UDLP) for the North East Link Tunnels from Watsonia to Bulleen. We asked for feedback on new parklands, wetlands, walking and cycling paths, improvements to local roads, and connecting Eastern Freeway upgrades in Bulleen and Balwyn North.
We’ll be sharing a summary of how submissions were considered soon.
Two massive tunnel boring machines ordered
Two giant tunnel boring machines (TBMs) were ordered this year ready for tunnelling in 2024.
The TBMs will be among the biggest in the southern hemisphere, with each machine coming in at 90m long and 15.6m in diameter and weighing around 4000 tonnes.
It will take around 18 months for the design, manufacturing, testing and transportation of the TBMs, which will arrive in Melbourne late next year via ship. They will then be transported to site in Watsonia, lowered piece by piece into an excavated box, assembled, and launched on their journey south toward Bulleen.
Preferred bidders selected for freeways overhaul
Two world-class consortia have been selected as the preferred bidders for the next big elements of the North East Link Program – the overhaul of the Eastern Freeway and the completion of the M80 Ring Road.
The Nexus consortium has been selected as the preferred bidder for the first part of a major overhaul of the Eastern Freeway. The AMA consortium has been selected as the preferred bidder to complete the M80 Ring Road at Greensborough.
We’ll now work with both bidders ahead of contracts being awarded by mid next year.
Preparing for tunnelling
From Watsonia to Bulleen, we’ve been busy preparing construction sites and compounds ready for tunnelling in 2024.
In Watsonia, we’ve realigned a section of Greensborough Road and piling works are underway to lay the foundations for the TBM launch boxes.
We’ve started preparing Winsor Reserve in Macleod for the construction of a large acoustic shed to support the TBMs once they start tunnelling. The shed will be built to insulate noise, dust and light spill as much as possible during construction.
In Bulleen, we’ve started preparing sites for a diverted Bulleen Road and the new Manningham Road interchange, that will take thousands of vehicles off local roads each day and into the North East Link Tunnels.
Awarded grant funding to local projects
The first round of grants and partnerships were awarded to community groups and organisations for festivals, events, and upgrades to local infrastructure and community, sporting and recreational facilities.
The successful recipients will share in over $1.6 million through 50 grants and partnerships as part of the North East Community Fund.
What's in store for 2023
There will be lots happening next year as we continue to get the TBM launch site ready in Watsonia and build the acoustic shed at Winsor Reserve to manage the dirt and rock from tunnelling works. We’ll also start making some changes to Bulleen Road for the tunnel entrances and green bridge, keeping traffic safely moving and access open on this busy road right through construction.
We’ll continue to plant trees in local areas as we build North East Link, getting trees in the ground early and planting at least 2 trees for every 1 removed.
The second round of community grants funding will open next year, and we’ll be out and about at festivals and events to chat to locals about all things North East Link.
You’ll see us out in early 2023 with more information on how sites will be set up and used to support major tunnelling works.
In the meantime, keep an eye on our website for works happening near you.
Join a North East Link Community Liaison Group
As construction progresses, we’re calling on locals to join one of our two Community Liaison Groups. Each group will represent the northern and southern parts of the project area.
The groups play an important role in sharing knowledge and insights and keep the local community informed through key stages of the project.
Applications are open until 5pm, Friday 20 January 2023. Find out more.