North East Link tunnel boring close to commencement

The North East Link is close to commencing tunnel boring with segments of the first tunnel boring machine (TBM) to dig the twin road tunnels lowered into the ground.

The first pieces of the machines were lowered into the ground by a 550-tonne gantry crane. When assembled, each 4,000-tonne TBM will be 90 metres long and more than 15 metres wide.

The TBMs will soon work their way south from Watsonia toward Bulleen, while crews begin installing tunnel walls made of almost 44,000 individual concrete segments.

Across the north-east, a significant level of work is underway to prepare for tunnelling. A 200-metre-long TBM launch box in Watsonia has been completed, and work has started on the underground box structures near Lower Plenty Road and Manningham Road 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 two years to keep traffic moving during construction.

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 with expected benefits including reduced travel times of up to 35 minutes.

Victoria’s Minister for Transport Infrastructure, Danny Pearson, highlighted the importance of the milestone.

“This is another significant milestone for North East Link – getting us closer to moving trucks off local roads and slashing travel times across the north-east,” Minister Pearson said.

“We’re getting on with assembling TBMs on site so tunnelling can kick off in the coming months – building the longer 6.5-kilometre tunnels the community asked for.”

The North East Link, the M80 Ring Road Completion and the Eastern Freeway Upgrades are expected to open in 2028 and are funded in joint partnership by the Australian and Victorian Governments.

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