News, Road upgrades, Victoria

Speed restrictions as North East Link works ramp up

As preparations for the North East Link tunnelling works continue, speed restrictions have been rolled out at several locations.

The two huge tunnel boring machines (TBM) are in the final stages of being assembled, before they launch in the coming months.

The final piece of the TBM, a 137-tonne screw conveyor, has arrived at the Watsonia site to help dig the 6.5 kilometre road tunnels.

A 550-tonne gantry crane has started lowering each TBM piece into the launch box and when assembled, each 4000-tonne tunnel boring machine will stretch 90 metres long and 15.6 metres high.

Once up and running, the TBMs will dig up to 15 metres per day as they travel from Watsonia to Bulleen – passing deep underneath traffic.

More than 100 tunnel workers are currently undergoing intensive training to work up to 45 metres below ground level, with a hyperbaric facility currently being installed on site so workers can prepare to work under a compressed air environment.

Across Melbourne’s north-east, a huge amount of work is underway to get ready for tunnelling. A covered conveyer belt and shed are in place to safely load dirt and rock onto trucks, more than a quarter of the concrete tunnel segments have been built in Benalla, and the TBM retrieval box is taking shape in Bulleen.

Worksites are being set up along the Eastern Freeway and M80 Ring Road, with large areas of open space needed to upgrade the freeways to connect with the North East Link tunnels, which will cut travel times by up to 35 minutes.

Speed restrictions and barriers have been rolled out along the Eastern Freeway between Burke and Bulleen roads and these will extend to Tram Road in the coming months.

Once complete, the North East Link is expected to take up to 15,000 trucks off local roads and cut travel time by 35 minutes.

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