The West Gate Tunnel will ensure quicker and safer journeys and remove over 9000 trucks a day from streets in the inner west.
The twin tunnels will take traffic underground from the West Gate Freeway to the Maribyrnong River and on to an elevated road about Footscray Road.
Cars and trucks will enter the citybound tunnel from the West Gate Freeway just west of Williamstown Road and exit near the Maribyrnong River in Footscray. To travel west, cars and trucks will enter the tunnel near the Maribyrnong River and exit at the West Gate Freeway just east of Millers Road.
- Twin tunnels under Yarraville between the West Gate Freeway and the Maribyrnong River.
- A 4km-long outbound tunnel and 2.8km-long citybound tunnel.
- Ventilation structures at each tunnel exit to remove air from inside the tunnels.
- Freeway Management System to support good traffic flow and safety.
- The Aboriginal culture and heritage of Melbourne’s west is reflected in the design of the tunnel portals, which has been inspired by the form of traditional nets and traps used to catch eels.
Tunnel safety will be an important feature for the smooth operation of the tunnel, including automatic detection for over-height trucks, fire systems and emergency access and exits.
Stages of tunnel construction
Two tunnel boring machines (TBMs), Bella and Vida bored underground with minimal impact to the community and businesses, to dig the tunnels.
In February 2023, TBM Vida broke through in Yarraville, completing a 2.8km journey that started on the west side of the Maribyrnong River under Yarraville and finished at Williamstown Road near the West Gate Freeway.
In May 2023, TBM Bella completed her 4km journey building the outbound tunnel finishing at the West Gate Freeway between Williamstown and Millers Road.
Building the tunnel entries
There are tunnel portals at each end that form the entries and exits to the tunnels:
- There is a tunnel entrance just west of Williamstown Road where citybound cars and trucks will enter the tunnel
- There is an exit to the West Gate Freeway located in South Kingsville between Millers Road and Williamstown Road where cars and trucks will exit the tunnel heading west.
- In Yarraville on the west side of the Maribyrnong River is the other tunnel entry/exit where vehicles will enter and exit via a bridge over the Maribyrnong River connected to an elevated road above Footscray Road.
The start and end of each tunnel is still under construction and being built using the ‘cut and cover’ method. This involves excavating a trench then covering it with a concrete deck to form a roof. This is where the tunnel boring machines (TBMs) start and end their journey.
The Aboriginal culture and heritage of Melbourne’s west is reflected in the design of the tunnel portals, which has been inspired by the form of traditional nets and traps used to catch eels.
Building the road deck and other structures
At the same time while TBMs Bella and Vida were boring underground, our crews were building the insides of the tunnels.
The first stage was to install the concrete lining – forming the walls, roof and base of the tunnel. Behind each TBM, crews then worked to build the road surface and install electrics, ventilation and safety systems.
Although both TBMs have finished their journeys, these finishing works are still ongoing before the tunnels can be opened for use.