The Age: Tunnel company Acciona says East West Link project will go ahead. October 3, 2014. Jenny Wiggins
The Spanish infrastructure group helping build the East West Link expects the project to go ahead despite the political wrangling over its future.
Acciona is the lead partner of the Transcity joint venture – which also includes BMD Constructions and Italian tunnelling group Ghella – that is building the 4.6 kilometre Legacy Way. It is also part of the consortium selected to design and construct the $6.8 billion East West Link in Melbourne along with Lend Lease and French group Bouygues.
Transcity project director Jose Antonio Sanchez said he expected the project would go ahead after the Victorian government signed contracts on Monday.
Victoria’s Labor opposition has said it will cancel the project if it wins the state election next month due to community concerns about the road, but any cancellation would force the government to pay hefty compensation.
“The contract has been signed so I don’t think there should be uncertainty with that project going ahead,” Mr Sanchez said.
Acciona will take innovations in design and project management from Brisbane’s new $1.5 billion Legacy Way road tunnel to Melbourne as it prepares to start work on the city’s new East West Link motorway.
The projects will require different kinds of tunnelling machines because of different ground conditions – Brisbane has rock whereas Melbourne has soil.
But Mr Sanchez said Acciona would make use of some of the design ideas used on Legacy Way as well as project management and community engagement techniques that had helped the project run ahead of schedule. The opening date for Legacy Way, the construction of which began in mid-2011, is expected to be between four and six weeks ahead of its mid-May target.
Design innovations on Legacy Way included using an underground conveyor belt to transport earth removed during tunnelling excavation to a nearby quarry, instead of using trucks and clogging up the roads.
Transcity also worked closely with the road tunnel’s designers, Cardno, GHD and URS, early on in the development of the project, creating a more collaborative process, Mr Sanchez said.
The project’s two tunnel boring machines (one named Joyce, the other named Annabell) finished the tunnelling work several months earlier than expected, and were disassembled in a confined space, which avoided the need to have large cranes outside the tunnels.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott reiterated on Thursday his threat to demand that Victoria return the billions of dollars the federal government had pledged if Labor won the election and did not proceed with the project.
“Absolutely, this money was given for a specific purpose, under specific conditions and if those conditions aren’t fulfilled the money comes back to Canberra,” he said.