Two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) – 90 metres long, 15.6 metres in diameter and weighing 4000 tonnes each, have been selected to build Melbourne’s $6.7 billion West Gate Tunnel.
According to the Victorian Government, the machines are the biggest TBMs in the Southern Hemisphere, and will be used to build a new tunnel under Yarraville as part of the project.
Construction is set to commence in the next few weeks, with work beginning at the site of the northern tunnel portal in Footscray, where the first TBM will be launched in early 2019.
After taking 12 months to build and test, the massive machines will churn day and night for nearly two years, at a rate of around 9 metres per day, until they emerge at the West Gate Freeway in Melbourne’s inner west.
Once in the ground, they will work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to build 6.8 kilometres of tunnel between the Maribyrnong River and the West Gate Freeway.
The local community will have the opportunity to name the TBMs and follow their
“We’re getting on with the job of removing 9,000 trucks off residential streets in the inner west, providing a dedicated route to the port and slashing travel times all the way along the M1 corridor from Pakenham to Geelong,” Victorian Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan in a statement.
“Building this vital alternative to the West Gate Bridge is not a pie-in-the-sky project – it’s happening and the start of construction is now a reality.
“These massive tunnel boring machines will be hard at work 24/7, digging tunnels that will be used by Victorians for generations to come.”