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 comprises three main construction areas: widening the West Gate Freeway, twin tunnels under Yarraville, and a bridge over the Maribyrnong River connecting to a new elevated road along Footscray Road.
The project’s construction methods will be assessed through an Environment Effects Statement, and the contractor will be required to meet strict obligations around noise, vibration and traffic management.
West Gate Freeway construction
We will keep Melbourne moving by keeping all lanes on the West Gate Freeway open during peak travel times. This will be done 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 the CityLink Tulla Widening Project which is currently underway.
We’ll 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.
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.
Building bridges and elevated roadways
The West Gate Tunnel Project’s new Maribyrnong River Bridge and MacKenzie Road ramps will be built to make sure trucks can maintain access to the Port of Melbourne, including Footscray Road and MacKenzie Road by building the structures mostly at night. This will also help keep traffic moving throughout the day and minimise impacts to local businesses.
Addressing construction challenges
The West Gate Tunnel Project will be constructed with a focus on reducing impacts on communities and motorists. Options we are investigating to keep disruption to a minimum include:
- constructing bridge and tunnel segments off-site in factories and transporting them by rail where possible for installation
- installing barriers along key traffic routes to create work zones separated from traffic, allowing construction to continue during peak traffic periods without major disruption
- undertaking construction activities during the night where necessary to not disrupt traffic and local access during peak periods.
Your home and community
We are planning works and identifying truck routes for construction that avoid residential streets – keeping trucks to major roads and freeways wherever possible. Workforce parking will be available at construction sites to avoid workers parking on local streets.
Existing noise walls or temporary noise walls will be in place until new noise walls are built, ensuring privacy and protection from traffic and construction noise.
Noise reduction measures will be used on machinery and equipment to minimise noise at construction sites.
Real-time information will help drivers plan ahead. We’ll be tracking travel times with Bluetooth technology and keeping drivers informed.
We’ll keep you moving with a new rapid incident response service to ensure safe and reliable operation of the West Gate Freeway from the M80 interchange to Williamstown Road. The service will include road surveillance, incident response and clearance.
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 begin after we have planning approvals – expected later this year – with works to be completed by the end of 2022.
In the meantime, we’ll continue to work on the design and planning for construction. This may involve some investigation works such as geotechnical (ground) testing, monitoring and surveying.
We will communicate any activities to nearby residents in advance and ensure information is available on our website.
For more information see Project investigations
For more information download Building the West Gate Tunnel Project (PDF, 860kb)