Contracts awarded for the Eastern Freeway and M80 Ring Road Upgrade as part of the North East Link

North East Link

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Victoria’s biggest ever road project is powering ahead with the first contracts to deliver the much-needed Eastern Freeway Upgrade and M80 Ring Road Upgrade now signed.

Premier Jacinta Allan and Minister for Transport Infrastructure Danny Pearson announced the new contracts for the two biggest freeway overhauls in the state’s history, which form a vital part of the North East Link project.

The freeway upgrades and 6.5km North East Link tunnels will cut travel times by 35 minutes in the north east, taking 15,000 trucks off local roads a day, and creating 12,000 jobs across these 3 massive projects.

Through 6 years of detailed design and planning work, significant additional scope has been added to North East Link in response to community feedback – including a longer tunnel, a major upgrade of the M80 Ring Road at Greensborough, better interchanges and more public open space, all of which will create thousands more jobs.

Work is also continuing on the North East Link Tunnels, with tunnelling to begin on the 6.5 kilometre stretch from next year. The first tunnel boring machine is being assembled, with a launch area now built on the eastern side of Greensborough Road.

Video source: North East Link via YouTube

“The cost of not building this project is too great – we simply can’t do without it – and we’re investing more because we have expanded the project and we’re delivering it in a different economic environment,” says Minister for Transport Infrastructure Danny Pearson.

The awarding of key contracts followed an extensive competitive process with the world’s most experienced construction contractors.

Nexus – made up of Laing O’Rourke Australia Construction Pty Ltd, Symal Infrastructure Pty Ltd, WSP Australia Pty Ltd and Arcadis Australia Pacific Pty Ltd – has been appointed to deliver the first part of the $5.7 billion overhaul of the Eastern Freeway from Burke to Tram roads.

AMA – made up of ACCIONA Construction Australia Pty Ltd, AECOM Australia Pty Ltd, and MACA Civil Pty Ltd – will deliver the $3.8 billion M80 Ring Road Completion.

About the M80 Ring Road Upgrade project

The project comprises the design and construction of the M80 Ring Road between Plenty Road and the new North East Link tunnel entrance at Watsonia. Works include 14km of new lanes, separation of local roads from the freeways, almost 2 million cubic metres of earthworks, retaining walls, bridge structures, rail interface works, intelligent transport systems, urban design and landscaping.

The project will deliver new lanes, smart technology, a seamless interchange with North East Link and the Greensborough Bypass, improved walking and cycling connections, along with more than 4,000 trees planted.

“ACCIONA has been delivering sustainable infrastructure solutions across Australia for over 100 years and it is our privilege to continue to do so. We are proud to be working alongside MACA Civil and AECOM to deliver such a significant project for Victoria, one that will positively impact the state for future generations,” says ACCIONA CEO Australia and New Zealand Bede Noonan.

“This is a significant project opportunity for the MACA Civil business since we joined the Thiess Group last year, and we are proud to be joining the State Government, ACCIONA and AECOM in delivering this vital infrastructure project for Victoria, that will improve safety and reduce travel times for our community,” says Thiess Group Executive Australia West and MACA CEO David Greig.

“We’re excited to be delivering this transformative project that will change how people move around Melbourne and deliver positive outcomes for communities and the environment. Together with the State Government, ACCIONA, and MACA Civil, our technical specialists will draw on our deep experience in complex programs to deliver this city-shaping project that will leave a positive legacy for decades to come,” says AECOM Australia and New Zealand Chief Executive Mark McManamny.

Source: © 2023 ACCIONA

Eastern Freeway Upgrade

The project will deliver new express lanes, new traffic management technology and the first stage of Melbourne’s first dedicated busway. A new interchange in Bulleen will provide a seamless connection with the North East Link tunnels – linking Melbourne’s east with the M80 Ring Road, reducing travel times by 35 minutes and taking 15,000 trucks off local roads a day.

Image Source: © LAING O’ROURKE 2023

The Eastern Freeway hasn’t had a major upgrade in decades. In the first major upgrades to the Eastern Freeway in decades, more than 45kms of new lanes and traffic management systems will cut travel times by 11-minutes between Springvale Road and Hoddle Street, with 10kms of walking and cycling paths and a rebuilt Koonung Creek Reserve.

New noise walls along the freeway will give local homes even better protection and the project will also deliver Melbourne’s first dedicated busway from Doncaster to the city, and an upgraded Park and Ride at Doncaster.

These costings also reflect the spike in inflation and the massive escalation in construction costs we’re seeing across Australia and the world.

Laing O’Rourke Acting Managing Director, Mark Dimmock, said the project was an opportunity to leverage Laing O’Rourke’s major project experience and proven track record in collaborative contracting: “We’re grateful for the Victorian Government and Major Road Projects Victoria’s confidence in our team to deliver such an important project.

“Together with our alliance partners, we’ve developed an innovative and integrated project solution that meets the Victorian Government’s objectives and will deliver great outcomes for the community,” says Laing O’Rourke Acting Managing Director Mark Dimmock.

“We bring to the project a team of experienced people who understand the challenges associated with delivering a project of this scale,” says Laing O’Rourke Acting Managing Director Mark Dimmock.

“We will leverage new technologies and digital engineering to maximise construction safety and efficiency,” says Laing O’Rourke Acting Managing Director Mark Dimmock.

“Our mission is to be the recognised leader for innovation and excellence in the construction industry, and we’re proud to be bringing those industry smarts to this project,” says Laing O’Rourke Acting Managing Director Mark Dimmock.

The Eastern Freeway – Burke to Tram scope of work includes major road and bridge upgrades, a new interchange connecting the Eastern Freeway to the North East Link tunnels, smart traffic management technology upgrades and new noise protection to meet Victoria’s toughest traffic noise standards, new and upgraded walking and cycling connections, upgrades to Koonung Creek Reserve and revitalised wetlands and open spaces for the community.

Over the past year, Laing O’Rourke and its alliance partners have worked collaboratively with the Victorian Government and has provided design and constructability expertise to support the project’s planning process. This included development of an Urban Design and Landscape Plan which was recently exhibited for public comment.

The Eastern Freeway Upgrades will stretch from Hoddle Street to Springvale Road and be delivered in 3 key stages. We’re starting with Burke to Tram roads first, with local designs still to be released for Hoddle to Burke roads and Tram to Springvale roads, with contracts still to be awarded for these 2 stages.

Site preparation work is now well underway, with major works starting next year. The M80 Ring Road project will be complete in 2028.

The two biggest freeway overhauls in Victoria’s history are expected to cause significant disruption over coming years as both freeways get much needed upgrades and are tied in with the new North East Link tunnels from Watsonia to Bulleen.

The North East Link tunnels, Eastern Freeway Upgrade and M80 Ring Road Update are expected to open in 2028 and are jointly funded by the Federal and Victorian governments.

The Australian Constructors Association (ACA) welcomes the Victorian Government’s announcement of the latest contracts under the North East Link project, despite cost pressures.

ACA CEO Jon Davies said the Eastern Freeway Upgrade and M80 Ring Road Upgrade are critical projects and contractors are geared up and ready to deliver.

“Project certainty is paramount for a sustainable construction industry, and we commend the Victorian Government for staying the course,” said Mr. Davies.

“Like most sectors, the construction industry has experienced significant cost inflation since COVID-19 but costs are only going to increase.

“The Victorian Government has entered into these contracts in a sensible and mature way that will see government and industry work collaboratively to deliver the best value to taxpayers.”

More broadly, the opportunity to enhance the value of projects nationwide is enormous which is why the ACA is calling on the federal government to bring together state and territory governments, industry and unions, to urgently develop a comprehensive National Construction Strategy.

“Implementation of the National Construction Strategy would focus on enhancing the productivity of this critical industry, ensuring the successful delivery not only of the North East Package but also addressing the historic pipeline of new projects in energy, housing, defence, transport and social infrastructure,” said Mr Davies.

ACA remains committed to working with government, industry and unions to contribute to the long-term success and sustainability of the Australian construction sector.

Source: © Australian Constructors Association 2023

Source: © State Government of Victoria

Source: © 2023, State Government of Victoria, Australia

Source: © LAING O’ROURKE 2023

Image Source: © 2023, State Government of Victoria, Australia

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