A massive shed has been completed on Victoria’s West Gate Tunnel project, setting up the next stage to begin tunnelling.
The shed aims to keep noise and dust to a minimum for nearby residents as 1.5 million cubic metres of rock and soil is excavated.
More than 12,000 work hours have gone into building the shed, which is 180 metres long and 90 metres wide, making it larger than the Altona Bunnings.
It will be connected to the tunnel by a conveyor system that will measure in at 15 kilometres long by the time the tunnelling is done.
Rock and soil will be taken from underground tunnelling, where it will be moved via the conveyor to the launch site of the tunnel boring machines (TBM), where it will be loaded into bins and trucked away.
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The conveyors will move at 12.6 kilometres per hour and will move up to 9000 tonnes of rock and soil a day at peak activity.
“Now the shed is done, all focus turns to getting ready for tunnelling – our massive TBMs will work around the clock to dig the tunnels that will deliver a much-needed alternative to the West Gate Bridge,” Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said.
TBM Vida, the second TBM for the West Gate Tunnel project, has arrived in Melbourne and was delivered to the northern portal site on Whitehall Street. Both TBM Vida and TBM Bella are being assembled, with Bella to launch mid-year and Vida to follow afterwards.
Tunnelling will occur 24/7 to build the twin tunnels, which will be 2.8 and four kilometres in length.
More than 3500 people are currently working on the project, with more of the major work sites now established.
The West Gate Tunnel aims to cut travel times from the west by up to 20 minutes with tunnels connecting the West Gate Freeway to the port, city and Citylink.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the Victorian Government is building major projects to slash congestion, get trucks off local streets and get people home safer and sooner.
“We’ve built the shed, the TBMs are here and tunnelling will kick off soon to build the second river crossing governments have talked about for decades but never delivered – until now,” he said.
Construction is expected to be finished in 2022.