By Annabelle Powell, Journalist, Infrastructure magazine
There’s a lot happening in the road infrastructure space across Australia. Here, we take a look at some of the biggest road projects around the country and their progress to date.
WestConnex is Australia’s largest road infrastructure project linking Western and South Western Sydney with the city, airport and port in a 33km continuous motorway.
WestConnex also links Greater Sydney to major international gateways at Sydney Airport and Port Botany, and the future Western Harbour Tunnel, BeachesLink and F6 extension.
The Australian Government has committed $1.5 billion in funding to deliver WestConnex in partnership with the New South Wales Government, and the estimated project cost is $16.8 billion.
Construction commenced in March 2015. The M4-M5 Link Project is the final and most critical component of WestConnex, and is being delivered in two stages with construction starting in 2018.
Stage 1 involves the construction of the M4-M5 Link Tunnels between the New M4 at Haberfield and the M8 at St Peters and stub tunnels to the Rozelle Interchange.
The contractor on this stage is Acciona Samsung Bouygues Joint Venture. Stage 2 involves the construction of the Rozelle Interchange and Iron Cove Link. The contractor on this stage is John Holland and CPB Contractors Joint Venture. The M4-M5 Link Tunnels are expected to be open to traffic in 2023.
The 15-year Bruce Highway Upgrade Program is a $13 billion program of works to improve safety, flood resilience and capacity from Brisbane to Cairns. The 1,700km highway is Queensland’s major north-south road corridor, connecting coastal population centres and supporting around 58 percent of Queensland’s population.
Projects along the route include major upgrades and realignments, strengthening and widening type works, plus a range of safety and efficiency measures to target poor crash sites and to provide additional overtaking lanes and rest areas.
Several projects have been successfully completed, such as the $932 million Sunshine Motorway upgrade. A 10.5km upgrade and duplication of the Bruce Highway between Edmonton and Gordonvale is currently under construction.
The project is Stage 3 of the Cairns Bruce Highway Upgrade Master Plan and construction is expected to be completed in 2023.
West gate tunnel
The West Gate Tunnel project involves the expansion of the West Gate Freeway in Melbourne, including the construction of twin tunnels under Yarraville and a bridge over the Maribyrnong River.
The $6.7 billion project is being executed by Transurban and the Victorian Government. A consortium of John Holland and CPB Contractors was contracted to build the project and pre-construction works began in January 2018.
Construction was stalled in 2019 due to an inability for stakeholders to agree on where contaminated soil from the tunnel’s predicted location would be transferred to.
In June 2021, it was decided that the soil would go to Hi-Quality’s landfill site in Bulla, and construction has since resumed with the expected completion date pushed back to 2024.
Tonkin corridor upgrades
The Western Australian Government is undertaking improvements to the Tonkin Highway corridor, a 44km north-south highway and partial freeway in Perth, linking Perth Airport with the city’s north-eastern and south- eastern suburbs.
Construction commenced in January 2021, with the estimated cost approximately $1.2 billion. The Tonkin Highway Corridor project will be delivered under two contracts.
The first contract includes the intersections along Tonkin Highway at Hale Road and Welshpool Road, and the second contract includes Tonkin Highway and Kelvin Road The Request for Proposals for construction is expected to commence in mid-2022.
Gas industry roads upgrades
The Gas Industry Roads Upgrades will upgrade priority sections of roads in the Northern Territory to support the development of gas resources in and around the Beetaloo Sub-basin. Road upgrades will include strengthening and widening, flood immunity works and road safety improvements.
The upgrades are expected to provide crucial enabling infrastructure for the gas sector as well as support industry and business by providing more reliable freight links.
The Australian Government provided $173.6 million in funding for the corridor, and the Northern Territory Government Contribution provided $43.4 million. This project is expected to start construction in early 2023 and be finished by late 2026.
The Coomera Connector will deliver an alternative transport corridor between Loganholme and Nerang to complement the function and role of the Pacific Motorway (M1), Queensland’s busiest road.
The Stage 1 section of the Coomera Connector between Coomera and Nerang has been identified as the priority section to be built first. Stage 1 is expected to support 1,000 jobs over the project’s life.
Coomera Connector (Stage 1) is around 16km, and will be delivered in three construction packages. An early works package is underway, with road construction expected to begin from mid-2022.
In November 2021, a contract was awarded for Coomera Connector Stage 1 North. Acciona Construction Australia and Georgiou Group Joint Venture, with WSP and BG&E as the designers, will undertake enabling works and finalise the design for the project.
Enabling works began on the northern section between Coomera and Helensville in January 2022, marking the start of Stage 1 works.
The Australian Government and Queensland Government have committed a total of $2.16 billion (on a 50:50 basis) to plan and construct Coomera Connector Stage 1.
Great western highway
The Great Western Highway is one of Australia’s most historic roads and a key east-west connection out of Sydney. In 2019, the New South Wales Government committed $2.5 billion to the duplication of the Great Western Highway between Katoomba and Lithgow.
In 2021, the Federal Government committed a further $2.03 billion towards upgrading the Great Western Highway between Katoomba and Blackheath, and between Little Hartley and Lithgow.
In November 2021, the Review of Environmental Factors (REF) and concept design for the project were released. Contracts include the Detailed Design and Environmental Assessments (Eastern Section), which was awarded to Aurecon, and the Detailed Design and Environmental Assessments (Western Section), which was awarded to an Arcadis-Jacobs Joint Venture.
Construction is set to begin in 2022, and expected to be completed in 2030.