New home for precast tunnel segments

A tunnel launch area is being built in Melbourne’s north-east, with a 13 metre-high facility created to store concrete segments to line Victoria’s longest twin road tunnels.

Major work sites are being established in Watsonia and Macleod in preparation for the delivery of two 4000 tonne tunnel boring machines (TBMs) for the North East Link.

In Watsonia, a tunnel storage facility is being built to house the precast concrete segments that will line the twin tunnels. A construction of a 200 metre-long tunnel launch area is also underway on the eastern side of Greensborough Road.

The custom-built 15.6-metre diameter TBMs will take around six months to assemble on-site, with the components lowered into the ground by a 550-tonne gantry crane.

A large, covered conveyor belt (pictured) will transport the soil from the tunnels across Greensborough Road into a shed at Winsor Reserve, where it will be loaded onto covered trucks. Tunnelling is scheduled to begin in 2024.

In response to community feedback, Victoria’s Big Build stated that longer 6.5-kilometre tunnels (including an extra 1.9 km to avoid construction works at Banksia Park) will be built between Watsonia and Bulleen. Simpler interchanges at Lower Plenty Road, Manningham Road and Eastern Freeway will also be constructed along with a two-hectare Yarra Link green bridge over Bulleen Road.

Around 15,000 trucks will be removed from using local roads daily when the North East Link Tunnels are completed. The North East Link Tunnels are expected to open in 2028.

About the author

Desi Corbett

Desi is our weekly news journalist and the editor of Concrete in Australia magazine for 10 years. She has been heavily involved in all forms of engineering since 2013; part of a 30-year writing career across a range of subjects and media.