Contracts signed for Melbourne's $6.7bn West Gate Tunnel project

CONSTRUCTION of Melbourne's West Gate Tunnel will begin next month, after Transurban last week finalised its contract with the Victorian Government to build and operate the $6.7 billion project that will provide an alternative to the West Gate Bridge.

A joint venture between CPB Contractors and John Holland was selected by Transurban and the State Government as the preferred contractor for the project earlier this year, with the project due to be completed in 2022.

Artist's impression of West Gate Tunnel project
Above: Artist's impression of West Gate Tunnel project / Victorian Government.

As part of the Public Private Partnership with Transurban, the project will be partly funded with a ten-year extension of the CityLink Concession deed. Through its negotiations with Transurban, the State Government said it has also made the toll recovery system fairer and removed clauses that compensate Transurban for road projects that divert traffic off its network.

Legislation to operate the new road tunnel, and amendments to the CityLink concession deed, will be introduced into Parliament before the road is complete in 2022. If blocked by Parliament, the contract allows for the government to pay for the road and its operation.

The final cost of the project is an increase on previous estimates, and the government said this was a result of the tunnels now being twice as long as the original business case, and other changes such as improved city connections, additional noise walls, the creation of new open spaces and more cycling paths, and extending air quality monitoring for 10 years.

Artist's impression of West Gate Tunnel project
Above: Artist's impression of West Gate Tunnel project / Victorian Government.

In addition to the business case released in 2015, the government last week also released key documents, including a project summary, concession deed amendments, an exposure draft of the West Gate Tunnel Bill and the value for money assessment. The government will also shortly release the contracts between Transurban and the State.

The West Gate Tunnel project includes:

  • Widening the West Gate Freeway from eight lanes to 12 between the M80 Ring Road and Williamstown Road;
  • A 2.8-kilometre eastbound tunnel and a 4-kilometre westbound tunnel under Yarraville;
  • A new bridge over the Maribyrnong River;
  • An elevated road along Footscray Road to the Port of Melbourne, CityLink and the city's north; and
  • Major new cycling and pedestrian paths.

Transurban CEO Scott Charlton said the signing of the contracts marks one of the most comprehensive and transparent project developments undertaken in Victoria.

"Both the M1 and CityLink will run better when the project opens. It will free up space by taking around 28,000 vehicles off the West Gate Bridge and 22,000 off the Bolte Bridge every day and improve travel times by up to 20 minutes for drivers," Mr Charlton said.

"The Project includes more lanes on the West Gate Freeway, a new tunnel and elevated motorway connecting the growing western suburbs and CityLink. Combined with the Monash Freeway Upgrade, it will provide network improvements from Pakenham to Geelong.

"State-of-the-art freeway management technology will be delivered along the corridor to offer motorists more consistent travel times and enshrine Melbourne's status as the smart motorway capital of the southern hemisphere," Mr Charlton said.

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