Work has begun on the initial construction of Victoria’s North East Link tunnels, following the completion of compound sites in Watsonia and forthcoming work along Greensborough Road and Bulleen Road.

In Watsonia, the main launch site is taking shape for the two massive tunnel boring machines (TBM) that will help dig the six and a half kilometre tunnels.

With the compound site now ready, in coming weeks crews will start to realign a 300m section of Greensborough Road between Wattle Drive and Watsonia Road. 

This will create space to build the TBM launch box while keeping traffic moving alongside the tunnel construction work.

Victoria’s Acting Premier, Jacinta Allan, said the works would improve congestion and commuter safety.

“North East Link will fix the missing link in our freeway network, overhaul the Eastern Freeway, build Melbourne’s first dedicated busway, complete the Ring Road and build a North East Trail with more than 34kmof walking and cycling paths,” Ms Allan said.

“As part of Victoria’s Big Build we’re investing more than $20 billion in roads and rail infrastructure in Melbourne’s north east.

“The North East Link, Suburban Rail Loop North, Hurstbridge Line Duplication, Metro Tunnel and upgrades to local roads will significantly improve the way Victorians travel by easing congestion, improving safety and reliability.”

Work will also begin in the nearby Winsor Reserve, where a large acoustic shed will be built to support the tunnel boring machines. 

The shed will help contain noise, dust and light spill and excavated dirt will be safely loaded onto covered trucks inside the shed and securely carried off site.

From August, crews will set up work compounds along Greensborough Road and Bulleen Road, to get ready to build the ramps and tunnel entrances, the new tree-lined boulevard along Greensborough Road and tunnel ventilation.

The significant increase in construction activity will include the removal of trees and vegetation within the project boundary in line with the project’s extensive environmental approvals. As many trees as possible will be kept – including avoiding the much-loved Bulleen River Red Gum – and more than 30,000 trees will be planted.

For every tree removed to build the North East Link, at least two will be planted, as part of the largest tree planting program for a major road project in Victoria.

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