6 June 2019

The Footscray launch site for the two massive tunnel boring machines that will build the West Gate Tunnel is now ready for the TBMs to be placed in the ground.

The launch site has taken a year to complete and is about two times the length of an AFL oval, coming in at 300 metres long, 40 metres wide and 22 metres deep.

It’s from here that the 90 metre long TBMs will dig south west to build the twin tunnels to connect the West Gate Freeway to the port, city and CityLink - providing an alternative to the West Gate Bridge and taking 9000 trucks of residential streets.

Crews will now start lowering pieces of the first TBM to launch, Bella, into the ground using a gantry crane capable of lifting up to 500 tonnes.

After Bella has been completely assembled in the ground, parts of the second TBM Vida that will dig the shorter citybound tunnel, will be assembled above ground before being lowered into the launch site.

The launch site is lined with 20,000 cubic metres of reinforced concrete to provide a stable site to launch the 4000 tonne machines.

Once tunnelling is complete, the launch site will become the future northern entry and exit to the West Gate Tunnel.

The giant, state-of-the-art machines have been chosen for their ability to dig deep underground with little disturbance above ground for traffic, businesses and residents.

They’ll be piloted by a highly trained specialist crew who will work around the clock for the next 18 months while the tunnel is being built.

The community will be able to track the progress of the two TBMs as they dig underground with a TBM tracker installed at the West Gate Tunnel Project Info Centre on Somerville Road in Yarraville. The tracker will light up as the TBM’s move through the earth.

All up, over 6.8 kilometres of tunnel will be dug between Footscray and the West Gate Freeway.

Learn more about our Tunnel Boring Machines.