Test drilling for East West Link ends as contracts closer to being signed

Herald Sun: Test drilling for East West Link ends as contracts closer to being signed. Matt Johnston. Tom Minear. 5 March 2014

More than 18 months of test drilling for the East West Link has ended, meaning contracts for the $8 billion project are closer to being signed.

The successful drilling was applauded by Transport Minister Terry Mulder, who said protests that had tried to derail the important project had proved “a dismal flop”.

The last few months have seen protesters stop trams, run into traffic and clash with police, as they tried to stop ­engineers assessing the type of rock that would be in the path of the proposed 4.4km tunnel.

East West Link Protesters clash with police in Carlton. Picture: Nicole Garmston Source: News Limited

Mr Mulder said 116 individual bore holes had been drilled, totalling 4.8km, and protests did not stop one hole being drilled.

“The attempts by a very small group of serial protesters to stop the drilling have been a dismal flop,” he said.

But East West protest leader Anthony Main claimed picketers had successfully managed to disrupt the drilling process, saying holes that had been approved for drilling had not been completed.

“Our pickets, occupations of drill sites, and lock ons have clearly hampered the works,” Mr Main said.

“It seems the government has decided to halt the works as they are beginning to realise that they have very little support for this project. The vast bulk of people support the demands of the picketers for more public transport.”

The Socialist Party campaigner promised protesters would return to any other preliminary works conducted before November’s state election.

Mr Mulder said the drilling in the city’s inner northeast would save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars by giving bidders essential information.

All data will be passed on to the three consortia short-listed to build the tunnel.

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