Victoria’s $11.1B North East Link Project tunnelling contract awarded


cimic, North East Link, Victoria,


North East Link is the biggest ever investment in Melbourne’s North-East. Victoria’s longest road tunnels will fix the missing link in the city’s freeway network, take 15,000 trucks off local roads a day and slash travel times by up to 35 minutes.

The project will also see the completion of the Ring Road in Greensborough, overhaul the Eastern Freeway, first dedicated busway and the North East Trail – more than 34km of walking and cycling paths.

Construction on North East Link is already underway, with an early works program realigning the Yarra East main sewer using three mini-TBMs, and work well progressed to relocate more than 34km of gas water, sewer pipes, drains, and over ninety-six other utilities to make way for North East Link. Construction on the new Bulleen Park and Ride has also started.

The North East Link tunnels will be 1.9 kilometres longer than originally planned, reducing disruption during construction and creating more room for parklands and wetlands including a ten-hectare community park along Banyule Creek in Yallambie.

The tunnelling package alone will generate 8,000 jobs, with thousands more jobs for the rest of the North East Link program. 

Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said:

“This design released today is the result of extensive community consultation and delivers the project people have asked for – with a longer tunnel, quality design and community and environmental outcomes.”

“Half a million Victorians live within two kilometres of a North East Link interchange. The tunnels are just one part of a massive investment in the north east – this project will change the way people move around Melbourne and deliver the road, bus, walking and cycling upgrades.”

Spark has been awarded the contract to deliver the North East Link Tunnels. The consortium comprises of CIMIC Group companies Pacific Partnerships, CPB Contractors and Ventia, as well as WeBuild, GS Engineering and Construction, China Construction Oceania, Capella Capital, John Laing Investments and DIF.

CIMIC Group Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Juan Santamaria said: “This is an important project for the people of Victoria so we’re delighted to have reached contract close and be ready to begin work. We’re proud to be part of a project that will create more jobs for local people, and, when complete, alleviate congestion on local roads.

Revenue to CIMIC Group will be $3.8 billion, largely received over the construction period with the remainder during the operation phase.

As the Operations and Maintenance provider, Ventia services will include operations management, incident response, routine and corrective maintenance, asset replacement, and maintenance of Intelligent Transport Systems.

Ventia Group CEO Dean Banks said Ventia is looking forward to supporting the delivery of the much-anticipated project for the Victorian Government and the people of Melbourne.  

“I am very pleased to see Ventia build on our legacy of providing essential transport related services to Victoria with a strong focus on supporting local employment and the local supply chain,” said Dean.

Ventia is one of the largest providers of road network, motorway and tunnel operations and maintenance services in Australia and New Zealand.

Webuild, as part of the design and construction joint-venture, will design and build twin three-lane tunnels approximately 6.5 kilometres long, among other related works.

“Australia is a strategic market for us in light of the possibilities that it offers in terms of sustainable mobility and renewable energy,” said Pietro Salini, Chief Executive of Webuild. “We are proud to be leaders of this joint-venture of international companies that will build the NEL. The contract is a major achievement for the Group. It is the culmination of years of commitment that Webuild has made to a market where it aims to grow and consolidate its presence. It is also recognition of our people’s expertise in light of the experience acquired building some of the largest and most challenging infrastructure projects in the world.” 

The North East Link is the largest private‐public partnership (PPP) for an infrastructure project in Australia. The PPP will adopt an Incentivised Target Cost contracting structure that encourages transparency and collaboration between the client and the Spark design and construction joint venture. 

Project Stages

  • Timeline item 1 – complete 2017
    • Community consultation started
    • Site investigations started
    • Project corridor selected
  • Timeline item 2 – complete 2018
    • Business case released
    • Environment Effects Statement (EES) prepared
  • Timeline item 3 – complete 2019
    • EES exhibited for public comment
    • Early works builder announced
    • Shortlist of project design teams released
    • Planning approvals received
  • Timeline item 4 – complete 2020
    • Early works started – moving key power, water, gas and other services out of the way to get ready for major construction
  • Timeline item 5 – active 2021
    • Contract awarded to the Spark consortium for the North East Link Tunnels and project design released
    • Detailed design and construction planning work for the North East Link Tunnels underway
  • Timeline item 6 – incomplete 2022
    • Urban design and landscape plan for the North East Link Tunnels and North East Trail from Watsonia to Bulleen will be exhibited
    • Construction of North East Link Tunnels to start soon after
    • Key elements including the Ring Road Completion, Eastern Freeway Upgrades, Eastern Express Busway and surrounding sections of the North East Trail go out to market
  • Timeline item 7 – incomplete 2027- 2028
    • The project is working towards opening in 2027-2028

Sources: CIMIC, Ventia, Webuild

Source: © Copyright State Government of Victoria

Source: © State of Victoria (Department of Premier and Cabinet) 2016.

Photograph source: Artist’s impression of the Ring Road interchange at Greensborough (Courtesy of the Major Transport Infrastructure Authority/Government of Victoria)

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