The first of the two Herrenknecht 15.6m diameter TBMs that contractor JV CPB Contractors and John Hollandwill use to build the $6.7bn West Gate Tunnel has arrived in Melbourne. Acting Premier James Merlino joined Acting Minister for Transport Infrastructure Melissa Horne at the Port of Melbourne today as parts of the machine were being unloaded.
Bella, the TBM, is one of the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere. Tunnel boring is scheduled to start mid 2019, with completion in 2021.
The hundreds of components will be delivered over the next few weeks to the West Gate Tunnel’s northern portals in Footscray, and then assembled over the coming months.
The TBMs will start their journey there and move south-west towards the southern portals in the West Gate Freeway. Work will start on the 4km outbound tunnel first, closely followed by the 2.8km inbound tunnel. The longer tunnel will take around 18 months to complete.
Specialised training for the West Gate Tunnel Project has now also started for more than 30 tunnel workers with a hyperbaric chamber installed onsite so workers learn about operating in pressurised conditions.
Work will be carried out up to 35m below ground level and tunnellers will need to spend up to two hours depressurising before returning to the surface. Up to 20 people will work in the TBM at any one time.
The West Gate Tunnel Project will open in 2022 to provide a vital alternative to the West Gate Bridge, quicker and safer journeys and remove over 9000 trucks from residential streets in the inner west.
The project is a partnership between the Victorian Government and Transurban.
Acting Premier James Merlino said, “We’re not wasting a minute delivering this vital project. The main piece of equipment to build the West Gate Tunnel is now here and we’re getting ready to start boring.”
“The West Gate Tunnel Project will be Melbourne’s alternative to the West Gate Bridge and create 6000 jobs – creating employment opportunities for apprentices, trainees and retrenched auto workers.”