Earthmoving News, Victoria

TBM breakthrough on West Gate Tunnel Project

A TBM breaks through as a crowd of workers in hi-vis gear look on.

The West Gate Tunnel project has marked a key milestone as the first of two giant Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) has broken through in Melbourne’s west.

TBM Vida broke through in Yarraville, completing a 2.8km journey that started on the west side of the Maribyrnong River under Yarraville and finished at Williamstown Road near the West Gate Freeway.

The breakthrough marks the completion of excavation on the first of two tunnels, with TBM Bella also scheduled to complete her 4km journey for the second in the coming months.

Bella and Vida are currently the two biggest TBMs operating in Australia, and the breakthrough is the largest to ever occur in the southern hemisphere.

Over the past nine months, TBM Vida has been operated 24/7 by a crew of up to 20 people, excavating over 1,000,000 tonnes of rock and soil while installing more than 10,000 individual concrete segments.

Crews will now continue the important work of building road deck and installing electrical, lighting and safety systems to prepare the tunnel for completion in 2025.

Significant work will soon begin to remove Vida piece-by-piece, using a 500-tonne gantry crane to lift the components of the 90m-long and 15.6m-wide Tunnel Boring Machine out of the pit.

The massive tunnel boring machine will now be dismantled and removed piece by piece over a period of three months with the parts either recycled or returned to the manufacturer for other use.

The West Gate Tunnel Project is aiming to transform travel in Melbourne’s west by delivering an alternative to the West Gate Bridge, providing a much needed second river crossing and cutting travel times by up to 20 minutes.

Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Jacinta Allan said the breakthrough was a huge achievement, and thanked the crews for their work.

“The project will transform travel in Melbourne’s west,” she said. “It’ll slash commutes, take thousands of trucks off local roads, build kilometres of new and upgraded walking and cycling paths, and get families home sooner and safer.”

The West Gate Tunnel Project is being delivered by the Victorian Government and Transurban, along with construction partners CPB Contractors and John Holland (CPBJH JV).

For more on the West Gate Tunnel Project, visit: www.bigbuild.vic.gov.au

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