Tunnelling will soon begin on the North East Link tunnels from Watsonia to Bulleen

Monica Gameng   |   July 7, 2024
North East Link tunnels (cr: Victoria's Big Build)

Tunnelling will soon commence on Victoria’s longest twin road tunnels – the North East Link tunnels – as two massive tunnel boring machines (TBMs) are being prepared for launch. 

The TBM cutterheads have now been lowered into place at the Watsonia site, and these are the last major pieces of the massive diggers to be assembled before they are launched. The purple cutterheads will be front-and-centre when tunnelling begins, being the first part to cut into the rock. 

Once fully assembled, the TBMs will undergo testing and commissioning before they begin their journeys towards Bulleen. The machines will move about 10 metres a day and up to 45 metres below ground. 

Each TBM is 90 metres long, 15.6 metres wide and weighs more than 4,000 tonnes – making them among the biggest in the southern hemisphere. 

Tunnelling works will go well into 2026, ahead of the tunnels opening to traffic in 2028. 

The North East Link tunnels project will include: 

  • Longer 6.5-kilometre tunnels from Watsonia to Bulleen 
  • Simpler interchanges at Lower Plenty Road, Manningham Road and Eastern Freeway 
  • 5 MCGs of parklands along Banyule Creek at Borlase Reserve 
  • A new 2-kilometre tree-lines boulevard for Greensborough Road 
  • A 2-hectare Yarra Link green bridge over Bulleen Road 
  • 3 new wetlands along the Yarra River and Koonung Creek in Bulleen and Balwyn North 

The North East Link Program is the biggest investment in Melbourne’s north east to date, and it will change the way people move around the region. It brings together three major road projects – the North East Link tunnels, M80 Ring Road Completion and Eastern Freeway Upgrades. 

The three major projects are estimated to create 12,000 jobs. 

The Spark consortium has been awarded the contract to build the North East Link tunnels. The consortium is comprised of WeBuild, CPB Contractors, GS Engineering and Construction, China Construction Oceania, Ventia, Capella Capital, John Laing, DIF and Pacific Partnerships. 

Source: Victoria’s Big Build – North East Link (1, 2, 3); Infrastructure Magazine 

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Monica Gameng
As Felix's Marketing Assistant since 2015, Monica is responsible for researching and sharing new and progressing projects within the construction and mining sectors in Australia. It's no surprise that Monica has her finger on the pulse of Australian major projects given she has produced more than 1,000 posts. She truly is an industry expert.
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