The Victorian Government is marking the start of a massive year for Victoria’s largest road project with major works restarting on the North East Link for 2023.

Acting Victorian Premier, Jacinta Allan, announced the first pieces of the enormous tunnel boring machines (TBMs) are now being built, ready to arrive later 2023. Five road headers, including some that were used on the Metro Tunnel, are being refurbished to dig a section of the North East Link tunnels in Bulleen.

“We’re not wasting a minute making progress on the North East Link. With tunnel boring machines on the way, locals are going to see a huge amount of construction as we get ready to start tunnelling in 2024,” Ms Allan said.

Work has also started on the TBM launch box in Watsonia, where the machines will begin their journey south, with more than 200 piles installed. The launch box will be 40m deep and 200m long and will include more than three Olympic swimming pools worth of concrete and 1,700 tonnes of steel.

2023 will also bring a hive of activity north of Lower Plenty Road, with crews excavating the site to prepare to build ramps into the North East Link tunnels.

Member for Ivanhoe, Anthony Carbines, said, “This project has been talked about for a long time, so it is exciting to be preparing for the arrival of our TBMs, this is another important step in removing congestion from local roads.”

More action is taking place in Bulleen, with a section of Bulleen Road being moved further west to make way for the construction of the Yarra Link Green bridge and the major interchange connecting an upgraded Eastern Freeway to the tunnels, making sure traffic can keep safely moving on this busy road during construction.

2023 will also see the completion of Bulleen Park and Ride, contracts awarded for the Ring Road upgrade and the first section of the Eastern Freeway overhaul, and a tender process for the remaining Eastern Freeway upgrades, which will add 45km of new lanes, saving drivers 11 minutes between Springvale Road and Hoddle Street.

North East Link is a significant employer for Victoria, with 2,200 workers already on the project, including 160 apprentices, trainees and cadets, who have worked more than 143,000 hours. Over the life of the project, North East Link will create 10,000 good local jobs for Victorians.

Member for North-Eastern Metropolitan Region, Sonja Terpstra, said, “There is so much to look forward to on North East Link this year, from the completion of Bulleen Park and Ride to the completion of the TBM launch box. This project is going to be a game changer for so many Melburnians.”

The Victorian Government is investing more than $20 billion in Melbourne’s north-east to improve the transport network, including North East Link, Hurstbridge Line Upgrade, Fitzsimons Lane Upgrade and removing 21 level crossings.

The North East Link tunnels and freeway upgrades will be complete in 2028, slashing travel times by up to 35 minutes, and taking 15,000 trucks off roads, jointly funded by the Australian and Victorian governments.

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