The West Gate Tunnel Project will be built over five years using a range of construction methods to minimise disruption to motorists, local residents and businesses.
The project’s construction methods have been assessed through an Environment Effects Statement, and the contractor will be required to meet strict obligations around noise, vibration and traffic management.
Keeping roads open at peak hour
We will keep Melbourne moving by keeping all lanes open at peak hour on the West Gate Freeway, Footscray Road, Millers Road and Williamstown Road.
On the West Gate Freeway, we will keep lanes open by completing road widening and other works on the road shoulder or in the centre. The West Gate Freeway has plenty of space to safely achieve this. This method is comparable to other road projects such as the Monash Freeway Upgrade.
We will also ensure that works impacting local streets and important pedestrian and cycle crossings across the West Gate Freeway are managed to maintain movement within the community.
Strict controls are in place to make sure construction noise is well managed and complies with EPA guidelines. We will:
- Use screens and noise enclosres to reduce noise from major activities at construction compounds
- Leave existing noise walls in place where practical or provide temporary noise walls until new ones are built
- Plan noisy works at times when they will cause the least inconvenience where possible and provide advanced notice
- Monitor noise levels and take action to reduce noise
- Adopt best practice site management to reduce noise from work areas.
There are specific requirements to protect residents from excessive noise at night. If noise exceeds set levels we need to reassess the situation and take action to manage any impacts. This could mean changing the time of work, providing respite periods, using noise barriers or changing construction methods to reduce noise.
Tunnel boring machines
With thousands of tunnels operating around the world, we know they can be built safely and without affecting homes above them. Using state-of-the-art tunnel boring machinery means large-scale construction can happen underground, with minimal disruption above.
Two purpose-built Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) will be used to create twin tunnels between the West Gate Freeway and the Maribyrnong River. The tailor-made machines with 15.6 m diameter cutting heads will be used to build twin, three lane tunnels.
The TBMs will excavate over 1.5 million cubic metres of rock and soil while a mobile factory behind them installs the concrete tunnel lining. Depending on the ground conditions, the machines will typically bore at an average rate of 9 m per day.
Rock and soil (spoil) being removed for tunnel construction will be enclosed or covered at all times.
Vibration and ground movement
Tunnel boring machines are very good at reducing vibration so many people living and working above the tunnel may not notice construction happening underground. We will:
- Inspect properties before and after construction
- Monitor ground movement and vibration levels at all times
- Meet strict targets set to manage vibration and minimise disruption. Building bridges and elevated roadways
Most of the soil and rock we’re digging out of the ground is natural fill material. Because heavy industry and rubbish tips have operated in this area over many years, we expect to find some contaminated soil and will manage it safely. We will:
- Carry out detailed studies to identify areas with contamination
- Manage any contaminated materials in accordance with EPA Victoria requirements, environmental laws and regulations
- Test soil and separate contaminated materials from clean fill
- Use facilities licenced by EPA Victoria to treat and dispose of contaminated soil or re-use fill according to approved guidelines.
Local and construction traffic
There are extensive requirements to ensure road works and detours are well planned and executed. There will be changes on some roads, detours and a lot of trucks travelling around the precinct areas.
In the Port to City precinct, we will maintain 24/7 access to the port and keep Footscray Road open and running as smoothly as possible while we build the new freeway and veloway.
We will keep traffic moving by:
- Developing and following plans for how vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians move around work areas, public transport, speed limits, safety and property access
- Making sure detours are safe, clearly signed and avoid residential areas where possible
- Reducing the construction traffic at peak times
- Keeping construction traffic on major roads, freeways and haulage routes.
We want to see as many mature trees retained and will only remove plants when it is necessary to build the project. We will:
- Do detailed tree studies to confirm important trees and habitats
- Set out no-go zones and fence areas to be protected
- Plant over 17,000 trees and thousands of native and Indigenous shrubs and grasses.
Parks and sporting grounds
We have avoided using open spaces for construction as much as possible and will work with councils, community groups and sporting clubs to reduce any disruption from our works. We will:
- Keep all sporting grounds open and operating during construction
- Work with councils and clubs to avoid impacting on organised local events
- Reinstate or improve the small number of open space areas being used during construction.
Building bridges and elevated roadways
The West Gate Tunnel Project’s new Maribyrnong River Bridge and Mackenzie Road ramps will be built mostly at night to make sure trucks can maintain access to the Port of Melbourne, including Footscray Road and Mackenzie Road. This will help keep traffic moving throughout the day and minimise impacts to local businesses.
New bridge over the Maribyrnong River and Mackenzie Road ramps. Artist impression only – does not include detailed design
With the exception of tunneling activities, working hours will aim to avoid sensitive periods and to minimise impacts to road users and local residents.
Night work will be required on the West Gate Freeway, Footscray Road and within the rail environment to ensure roads and rail remains operational throughout construction.
Tunneling activities will be undertaken continuously 24-hours, seven days a week.
We’ll communicate any planned disruptions or delays in advance to residents, businesses and road users.
A community contact line will operate 24-hours, seven days a week to receive enquiries and provide information.
Construction from early 2018
Construction will start early 2018, with works to be completed by the end of 2022.
In the meantime, we’ll continue to work on the detailed design and planning for construction. This may involve some investigation works such as geotechnical (ground) testing, monitoring and surveying.
For more information see Project investigations
For more information download Building the West Gate Tunnel Project (PDF, 860kb)