Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Vida breathes life into Melbourne tunnel

Tunnel Boring Machine ‘Vida’ has broken through on Melbourne’s West Gate Tunnel Project, completing a 2.8-kilometre journey and marking the completion of excavation on the first of two tunnels.

TBM Vida broke through in Yarraville, making its way from the west side of the Maribyrnong River under Yarraville to Williamstown Road near the West Gate Freeway, after close to 7,000 combined hours of tunnelling.

The breakthrough marks a significant milestone for the project, with TBM Bella also scheduled to complete her four kilometre journey from just west of the Maribyrnong River to just east of Millers Road, in the coming months.

“This is a huge achievement for the West Gate Tunnel – these giant TBMs have been operating day and night to reach this point, and I want to thank all the crew’s working 24/7 to help deliver this important project,” said Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, Jacinta Allan.

“The project will transform travel in Melbourne’s west – 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.”

Bella and Vida are currently the two biggest TBMs operating in Australia and today’s 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 one million tonnes of rock and soil allowing the installation of more than 10,000 individual concrete segments.

Crews can now continue on 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 90-metre long and 15.6-metre-wide TBM out of the pit. The parts will then be recycled or returned to the manufacturer for other use.

When complete, the West Gate Tunnel Project will deliver a vital alternative to the West Gate Bridge, providing a much needed second river crossing, and removing more than 9,000 trucks from residential streets.

Journeys are set to be safer and more reliable with travel times between Melbourne’s west and the city slashed by up to 20 minutes.

There will also be 14 kilometres of new and upgraded walking and cycling paths, and close to nine hectares of new parks and wetlands.

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