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Tunnel Boring Machines On The Way To Build Tunnel

10 January 2018

The biggest tunnel boring machines (TBMs) in the southern hemisphere are on their way to Melbourne, with an order now placed for the two massive machines that will build the West Gate Tunnel.

They will be used to build Melbourne’s vital alternative to the West Gate Bridge and take trucks off residential streets in the inner west and put them underground.

The $6.7 billion West Gate Tunnel Project will upgrade the West Gate Freeway and link it to the city and CityLink, with a new tunnel under Yarraville and bridges over the Maribyrnong River.

Construction on the project kicks off in the next few weeks, with works beginning at the site of the northern tunnel portal in Footscray, where the first TBM will be launched in early 2019.

After taking 12 months to build and test, the massive machines will churn day and night for nearly two years, at a rate of around 9 metres per day, until they emerge at the West Gate Freeway in Melbourne’s inner west.

The massive TBMs will stand 15.6 metres in diameter – as tall as a five-story building – and will be 90 metres long.

Weighing in at around 4,000 tonnes each, they are being purpose built to suit local ground conditions in Melbourne’s inner west.

Once in the ground, they will work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to build 6.8 kilometres of tunnel between the Maribyrnong River and the West Gate Freeway.

The local community will have the opportunity to name the TBMs and follow their progress deep under Melbourne over the coming years.

The West Gate Tunnel Project will provide an estimated $11 billion boost to the Victorian economy, creating 6,000 new jobs, including 500 jobs for people entering the workforce, and up to 150 jobs for former auto workers.

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Building starts on $6.8 billion West Gate Tunnel

JANUARY 31 2018 - 3:38PM  Tina Jacks

Western Distributor/West Gate Tunnel

Construction has begun on the $6.7 billion West Gate Tunnel, despite key planning approvals and legislation not having passed Parliament.

Workers started clearing the site and excavating on Whitehall Street in Footscray on Wednesday, at what will be the northern portal of the controversial toll road which will link the West Gate Freeway in Yarraville and CityLink in Docklands.

Speaking at the site Premier Daniel Andrews declared that the project would go ahead even if it does not receive planning approvals in Parliament. 

"Blockers, people who have no plan, they are irrelevant to the work that needs to be done in this state," Mr Andrews said.

"We are not wasting any time, we said we would start almost immediately, that's exactly what has happened."

Workers will dig down more than seven storeys to make way for the project's two massive, $50 million tunnel-boring machines.

From 2019, the 90-metre machines will tunnel 24 hours a day through the week towards the West Gate Freeway, moving nine metres per day. A concrete lining will be created behind the machines as they bore through the earth.

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Massive Tunnel Boring Machines Headed For Melbourne
9 December 2018

The first of the two massive tunnel boring machines that will dig the Andrews Labor Government’s West Gate Tunnel will begin its journey to Melbourne next week.

Melburnians have talked about an alternative to the West Gate Bridge for decades, and the Labor Government will deliver it.

Premier Daniel Andrews today joined Minister for Transport Infrastructure to tour the site, where a massive shed is being built to process the thousands of tonnes of dirt and rock that will be excavated during construction for the tunnel’s northern portal.

The steel frame is going up for the 90 metre x 180 metre spoil shed at the Yarraville tunnelling hub site, while work is also well underway at the northern portal site to build the tunnel entrance, where the two TBMs will be launched.

The massive TBMs will be 90 metres long, weighing up to 4,000 tonnes each and standing 15.6 metres in diameter – as tall as the top of the dome at Flinders Street Station.

The first TBM will arrive early next year. It will be the first time a full-scale TBM has been used in Victoria.

The first TMB to arrive is named Bella, after Bella Guerin, the first woman to graduate from an Australian University. The second TBM will be called Vida, after Vida Goldstein one of the first women ever to run for Parliament.

Two huge retaining walls have been built either side of the tunnel site, with around 1000 support columns driven into the ground to help keep workers safe on site.

Crews are installing a steel structure inside the huge launch site to provide additional support for the retaining walls which in turn supports the soil at the sides.

To assemble the TBMs, some of the largest gantry cranes ever built in Australia, with up to 500 tonnes lifting capacity, will be used.

Spoil from the tunnel will be moved from the TBM to the spoil shed via a covered conveyor, where it will be safely loaded onto covered trucks inside the shed.

The West Gate Tunnel Project will provide a vital alternative to the West Gate Bridge, slashing travel times, taking trucks off local roads and creating 6,000 new jobs for Victoria.

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All-night earth-eater, Bella, on its way to Melbourne
9 December 2018 — 4:26pm Nicole Precel

Western Distributor/West Gate Tunnel
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Transport Minister Jacinta Allan (second left) tour the West Gate Tunnel site.CREDIT:DAVID CROSLING

Its name is Bella. It is 90 metres long, weighs more than the equivalent of 80 trams and is on its way to Melbourne.

It's one of two $50 million massive tunnel-boring machines that will work all night excavating thousands of tonnes of dirt and rock for the West Gate Tunnel project. Bella will leave China next week for the month-long trip to Australia.

Standing at the tunnelling hub shed in Yarraville to discuss the project, Premier Daniel Andrews said the shed was one piece of the puzzle.

"We’re getting on and delivering this massive piece of road infrastructure, $6.7 billion, 6000 jobs, that critical second river crossing to take the pressure off the West Gate Bridge," he said.

The project includes a widened West Gate Freeway joined to CityLink via a new tunnel under Yarraville, and an elevated Transurban six-lane toll road through West Melbourne.

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Massive Tunnel Boring Machine Arrives In Melbourne
13 January 2019

The first of the two massive tunnel boring machines that will build the West Gate Tunnel has arrived in Melbourne.

Acting Premier James Merlino joined Acting Minister for Transport Infrastructure Melissa Horne at the Port of Melbourne today as parts of the huge machine were being unloaded.

Bella, the tunnel boring machine (TBM) which arrived today, is 90 metres long, 15.6 metres high and weighs 4,000 tonnes – one of the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere.

The hundreds of pieces that make up Bella will be delivered over the next few weeks to the West Gate Tunnel’s northern portals in Footscray, and then assembled over the coming months.

Specialised training for the West Gate Tunnel Project has now also started for more than 30 tunnel workers with a hyperbaric chamber installed onsite so workers learn about operating in pressurised conditions.

Workers will work up to 35 metres below ground level and will need to spend up to two hours depressurising before returning to the surface. Up to 20 people will work in the TBM at any one time.

These next steps come as the Andrews Labor Government today also announced a $124 million contract to supply 92,200 tonnes of steel for the West Gate Tunnel Project has been awarded to Liberty.

The 92,200 tonnes of steel will be used across the West Gate Tunnel Project corridor from Docklands to Laverton to reinforce the lining of the project’s twin tunnels, bridge segments, noise walls and retaining walls.

To help meet demand for the West Gate Tunnel for the next four years, Liberty has now ramped up operations at their Derrimut facilities and employed 150 additional staff, including ex auto workers, to produce Australian steel.

Tunnel boring on the longest of the West Gate Tunnel twin tunnels will start by the middle of the year.

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Massive Tunnel Boring Machine Taking Shape
20 February 2019

Assembly is underway on the first of the two massive tunnel boring machines (TBM) that will build the West Gate Tunnel.

Premier Daniel Andrews joined the Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan at the project’s northern portal site in Yarraville today to see the progress of the massive machine that will build Victoria’s alternative to the West Gate Bridge and get trucks off local streets.

It will take around 75,000 working hours to assemble the TBM – Bella – with up to 30 people per shift working around the clock.

The 15.6 metre diameter cutter head, one of the last pieces to be assembled, will be moved into place by a 500-tonne gantry crane, one of the largest of its kind in Australia.

To reduce disruption to local business traffic as works ramp up, a footbridge for workers is now in place over Somerville Road between the project’s two major Whitehall Road construction sites. The 11-tonne, 8 metre-high footbridge is made from Australian structural steel and was fabricated by Melbourne company, Calbah.

With major tunnelling works set to start this year, legislation will also be introduced into parliament this week that will provide the framework for the management of the road when it opens in 2022.

The legislation also enables the Andrews Labor Government to finally deal with the issue of trucks on roads in the inner west by enshrining enforceable truck bans in law, removing 9000 trucks from these roads for good.

Fines collected from truck ban offenders will be reinvested in local transport projects and programs that benefit local communities via the Better Freight Fund, with a focus on those who may be impacted by changes in the truck numbers.

The West Gate Tunnel Bill and amendments to the CityLink Concession Deed will provide a fairer tolling regime for all for Victorians and remove historical clauses that would see Transurban compensated for State projects that divert traffic off its network.

An exposure draft of the West Gate Tunnel Bill and CityLink Concession Deed was released in 2017 when contracts were signed for the West Gate Tunnel Project, as part of a range of documents released for the project.

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