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 Jan. 13 as parts of the huge machine were being unloaded.
Bella, the tunnel boring machine (TBM) which arrived today, is 90 m long, 15.6 m 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.
Specialized 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 pressurized conditions.
For a video of the TBM arriving, click here.
Workers will work up to 35 m below ground level and will need to spend up to two hours depressurizing 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 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.