Construction has begun on the West Gate Tunnel in Victoria.

Workers have started clearing a site on Whitehall Street in Footscray, where they’ll dig down more than seven storeys, clearing the way for two massive tunnel boring machines (TBMs).

When they’re launched in 2019, the two TBMs will tunnel towards the West Gate Freeway, moving nine metres per day and excavating enough rock and soil to fill the MCG.

As the TBM bores through the earth, it will install a concrete lining behind it – forming the walls, roof and base of the tunnel.

Construction crews following behind will work to build the road surface and install electrics, ventilation and safety systems.

Another work site will be established on the other side of Somerville Road in 2018, with the two sites connected by an elevated heavy-duty, covered conveyor belt.

The conveyor will transport dirt and rock from the TBM excavation to large sheds, to be loaded onto covered trucks and removed from the site.

More project sites will be established in the inner west in 2018 to widen the West Gate Freeway and move utilities, including gas pipes, sewers and drains, to make way for the tunnel.

The West Gate Tunnel is expected to be open in 2022. 

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