North East Link tunnel boring machines taking shape

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North East Link is another step closer to slashing travel times and taking trucks off local roads, as segments of the first tunnel boring machine (TBM) have been lowered into the ground – as the project gets ready to dig the twin road tunnels.

The assembly is taking place at the TBM launch box in Watsonia, where two of the largest TBMs in the southern hemisphere will start digging the 6.5km tunnels in mid-2024.

The first pieces of the huge machines have been lowered into the ground by a 550-tonne gantry crane – when assembled, each 4000-tonne TBMs will be 90 metres long and more than 15 metres in diameter.

From mid-2024, the TBMs will start working their way south from Watsonia toward Bulleen, installing tunnel walls made of almost 44,000 individual concrete segments manufactured locally in Benalla.

Across the north-east, a massive amount of work is underway to prepare for tunnelling. The 200-metre-long TBM launch box in Watsonia is complete, and work has started on the underground box structures near Lower Plenty and Manningham roads where the TBMs will excavate into on their journey south.

From late March drivers in Bulleen will notice changes to how they use Bulleen Road, Manningham Road and Bridge Street to allow for further works to continue on the Manningham interchange. These changes will stay in place for up to 2 years to keep traffic moving during construction. Find out more by reading the fact sheet - Changes to key roads in Bulleen.

And barriers and worksites are being set up along the Eastern Freeway and M80 Ring Road, so crews can upgrade the freeways that will connect to the North East Link tunnels – to cut travel times by up to 35 minutes.

North East Link