The West Gate Tunnel Project recently celebrated its first Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) having excavated 1 kilometre of the 4-kilometre westbound tunnel.
With the TBM a quarter of the way through its journey towards the West Gate Freeway, tunnelling is progressing well to build the twin tunnels underneath Yarraville.
Meanwhile, the second TBM is also making great progress on its journey since launching in April, with the 2.8 kilometre tunnel also coming together.
The TBMs, named Bella and Vida, are the biggest of their kind in the Southern Hemisphere and the largest TBMs to ever be used in Australia standing at 15.6 metres in diameter – as tall as a five-storey building – and 90 metres long.
When they’re done, Bella and Vida will have bored around-the-clock and through 1.5 million cubic metres of rock and soil to dig a critical part of Melbourne’s alternative to the West Gate Bridge.
While the TBM’s bore through the earth, a mobile factory within it installs a concrete lining – forming the walls, roof and base of the tunnel. Behind the TBM, highly specialised crews work to build the road surface and install electrics, ventilation and safety systems.
On the surface, works are continuing to prepare the southern portals for the TBMs to breakthrough from next year.
The West Gate Tunnel Project is so much more than the tunnels, with works progressing across all areas of the project, including widening the West Gate Freeway, building the elevated Footscray Road and preparing to construct new bridges across the Maribyrnong River.
With noise wall installation set to be complete this year, communities along the West Gate Freeway are already enjoying quieter homes, recreational areas and neighbourhoods.