From Watsonia to Bulleen, major works have resumed on North East Link marking the start of a massive year for Victoria’s largest ever road project.
The first pieces of the massive tunnel boring machines (TBMs) are now being built ready to arrive later this year. Five road headers, including some that were used on Metro Tunnel, are being refurbished to dig a section of the North East Link tunnels in Bulleen.
Work has started on the TBM launch box in Watsonia – which is where the TBMs will begin their journey south – with more than 200 piles installed. The launch box is a major piece of infrastructure at 40m deep and 200m long, and will include more than 3 Olympic swimming pools-worth of concrete and 1700 tonnes of steel.
There will be a hive of activity north of Lower Plenty Road as crews excavate the site to get ready to build ramps into the North East Link tunnels.
Works are progressing in Bulleen, with a section of Bulleen Road being moved further west to make way for the construction of the Yarra Link green bridge and the major interchange connecting an upgraded Eastern Freeway to the tunnels. This will ensure that traffic can keep moving safely on this busy road during construction.
This year will also see the completion of Bulleen Park & Ride, contracts awarded for the M80 upgrade and the first section of the Eastern Freeway overhaul, and a competitive process for the remainder of the Eastern Freeway upgrades – which will add 45km of new lanes, saving drivers 11 minutes between Springvale Road and Hoddle Street.
North East Link is a huge employer for Victoria with 2200 workers already on the project, including 160 apprentices, trainees and cadets, who have worked more than 143,000 hours. Over the life of the project, North East Link will create 10,000 jobs.
The North East Link tunnels and freeway upgrades will be complete in 2028, slashing travel times by up to 35 minutes, and taking 15,000 trucks off local roads.