A strip of five buildings on Swanston Street in Melbourne will be torn down to make way for the new underground station next to Flinders Street.

Buildings that until recently housed McDonald’s, Hungry Jack’s and KFC are now vacant and have started to be demolished, signalling the start of the area’s transformation.

Port Phillip Arcade on Flinders Street will also be demolished in coming weeks, with the heritage-listed Nicholas Building and Young & Jackson Hotel to stay.

Buildings further up Swanston street are also being torn down to make way for the brand new station near the corner of Swanston and La Trobe streets. The Metro Tunnel Project has taken possession of nine buildings in this area including the former Hungry Jack’s and a nine-storey building at 200 La Trobe Street.

Demolition of CBD buildings is expected to be completed in March 2018, with works and some unavoidable disruption likely to continue in the lead-up to the Christmas period.

Minister for Public Transport, Jacinta Allan, said the Metro Tunnel is the biggest public transport project in Victorian history, and will transform Melbourne with state-of-the-art stations and turn-up-and-go trains.

“A project of this size will cause some disruption, but will deliver decades of benefits – with more trains more often, right across Melbourne,” Ms Allan said.

The $11 billion project will create nearly 7,000 jobs and is one of 80 public projects with strict local content requirements to ensure local workers and businesses get their fair share of the work.

Seventy of those projects are already underway, with a combined value of more than $49 billion.

Minister for Industry and Employment, Ben Carroll, said, “We’re making sure Victorian workers and businesses reap the benefits of our massive pipeline of major projects.

“The Metro Tunnel is just one of dozens of public projects which are putting local jobs and businesses first.”

Major construction on the tunnel and five new stations is expected to start in 2018, with the project to be completed by 2026.

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