The next round of pieces for the 2 mammoth tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that will dig the North East Link tunnels are headed for Melbourne.
The cutterhead for the first TBM arrived in Melbourne in September, with more TBM pieces arriving over the next 2 months, getting ready for tunnelling to start from mid next year.
Pieces of the TBMs will be progressively unloaded at the Port of Melbourne and transported to Watsonia, with the next of these large deliveries to make their cross-city journey.
Departing at around 10pm, Saturday 18 November, the first of these superloads will leave the Port, travelling through inner-western suburbs – along Footscray Road, Francis Street and Somerville Road – before joining the M80 Ring Road.
Following an overnight stopover in Derrimut, it then continues to Watsonia on Sunday night – via the M80 Ring Road, exiting at Greensborough Highway and finishing at North East Link’s major work site in Watsonia.
A 16-axle truck will pull the 174-tonne load – measuring 56m end-to-end, standing at a height of 4.1m and with a width of 9.4m – it will often take up the entire width of the road, so the loads can’t be overtaken for most of the journey.
These loads can weigh over 250 tonnes, be up to 60m long, 9m wide and just over 5m high, which means a highly organised and trained transport crew must travel very slowly, at speeds between 5km/h and 40km/h.
Additional TBM pieces will be transported between Saturday 18 November to Tuesday 19 December. The remaining second TBM components are expected to arrive early next year, with more superload deliveries from January to March. All deliveries will take place at night to minimise delays for drivers.
The massive North East Link TBMs will be among the biggest ever used in the Southern Hemisphere - at 90m long (as long as 3 E-Class trams), weighing up to 4000 tonnes with a diameter of 15.6m.
Assembly of the first TBM is already underway and will take around 6 months to complete on site, with parts lowered into the ground by a huge 550-tonne gantry crane.
From mid next year, the TBM will work day and night, followed shortly after by the second TBM, to dig the 6.5km twin tunnels from Watsonia to Bulleen that will take traffic and trucks under, instead of through, suburbs.
To get ready for the massive machines, a tunnel launch area is being built in Watsonia.
Plan your journey, check real time travel advice at traffic.vicroads.vic.gov.au or via the VicTraffic mobile app and allow plenty of time to get to your destination.