The option was backed by the opposition and a government-appointed independent advisory council examining the project, but it was rejected by Planning Minister Richard Wynne amid fears it would blow out the budget.
In June, The Age reported Spark consortium, led by Milan-based WeBuild, had submitted a bid that pitched extending the project’s twin three-lane tunnels following a request from the government that both consortiums bidding for the contract explore the option. The deal means Spark will build, operate and maintain the tunnels of Melbourne’s long-awaited North East Link over the next 25 years.
The $15.8 billion project, co-funded by the Andrews and Morrison governments, is tipped to cut travel times between Melbourne’s north and south-east by more than half an hour and take 15,000 trucks off the road per day.
The stretch of toll road will link Metropolitan Ring Road to the Eastern Freeway and include road upgrades to add six express lanes to the Eastern Freeway, the creation of Melbourne’s first busway, and 34 kilometres of upgraded walking and cycling paths.
A new bridge near the Eastern Freeway interchange will also connect Koonung Creek Trail to a new cultural precinct on the banks of the Yarra River and Greensborough Road will be transformed into a tree-lined boulevard.
Designs for the $15.8 billion North East Link project, expected to cut travel times between Melbourne’s north and south-east by more than half an hour.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the tunnelling package alone would create 8000 jobs and help repair the economic damage created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A project the size of the North East link doesn’t come around very often. It’s been long talked about and is the largest ever investment into Melbourne’s north-east – supporting 10,000 jobs and we’re getting on with it,” he said.
This content was originally published here.