The Premier of the Australian state of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, has announced that a consortium headlined by John Holland and CPB Contractors has been selected to build the West Gate Tunnel Project, which will help alleviate traffic in Melbourne’s western suburbs.
The final design has now been chosen by the Victorian government and the project’s builder selected following an extensive competitive process with some of the world’s most experienced construction companies. The design now includes Victoria’s longest road tunnel at 2.5 miles (4km), which will become the vital new alternative to the West Gate Bridge, slashing travel times from the western suburbs, Geelong, and Ballarat. The government has highlighted the view that the project will create 6,000 new jobs, including 500 apprentices, up to 150 jobs for former auto workers, and around 400 jobs in Melbourne’s west. The two three-lane tunnels, second river crossing, and new freeway above Footscray Road, will be built using 93% local content, with around 92% local steel, creating jobs across the supply chain.
The project will give the western suburbs the first-class freeway that is required to help reduce congestion problems, with world-leading architecture and urban design that celebrates the aboriginal heritage and maritime history of Melbourne’s west. The updated design further responds to community feedback with the best-quality noise walls in Victoria, a longer tunnel that moves the exit and ventilation structure away from homes, and the creation of 9ha of new open space and wetlands. There will be 8.7 miles (14km) of new and upgraded cycling and walking paths, including a new 1.5 miles (2.5km) long ‘veloway’ above Footscray Road, and new bridges over Whitehall Street and Footscray Road to boost safety for cyclists and pedestrians.
Once the West Gate Tunnel is open in 2022, the government will introduce 24/7 truck bans on Francis Street, Somerville Road, Buckley Street and Moore Street, in order to improve road and pedestrian safety, greatly improve air quality, and reduce noise in the inner western area. The project will provide direct freeway access for trucks traveling to the Port of Melbourne through the new tunnel, moving them away from schools, homes and local communities. In addition, the Hyde Street ramps will provide a direct connection from the West Gate Freeway to the existing fuel refineries and the Port, which will save truck drivers time and money by avoiding 17 sets of traffic lights and reducing vehicle wear and tear. The project will now be assessed through an Environment Effects Statement (EES), which will be publicly exhibited mid-year, before final contractual close at the end of the year, and construction starting in early 2018.
Victoria’s Minister for Roads, Luke Donnellan, noted, “By giving trucks an alternative route through the West Gate Tunnel, we can introduce long-awaited 24/7 truck bans on streets in the inner west, while slashing congestion on the West Gate Freeway and local roads.”