Webuild consortium named preferred bidder for Melbourne’s North East Link tunnels

A consortium involving Italian firm Webuild has been named preferred bidder for the public-private partnership contract to build tunnels for Melbourne’s North East Link for the Major Transport Infrastructure Authority (MTIA).

The Spark consortium of contractors and financiers includes South Korea’s GS Engineering and Construction, Cimic subsidiary CPB Contractors, Chinese state firm China Construction Oceania, Australia’s Capella Capital and Britain’s John Laing Investments.

The consortium and MTIA will now negotiate a final contract and finalise the concept design for North East Link, with details expected before the end of the year.

The development will connect Melbourne’s north and south-east using three-lane twin tunnels, aiming to cut travel times by 35 minutes and free up local roads.

Linking the M80 Ring Road to an upgraded Eastern Freeway, the development will allow 135,000 vehicles a day to travel between Melbourne’s suburbs to the airport without encountering a single traffic light.

Ten percent of work on the project will be carried out by apprentices, trainees or cadets as part of the government’s local jobs first policy.

Pietro Salini, Webuild’s chief executive said in an emailed statement to GCR: "We are honoured to be part of the consortium that has been chosen as preferred bidder for the North East Link sustainable mobility project in Melbourne. It is the crowning achievement of our commitment to a country where we plan to put down roots for the long term.

"It is an accomplishment that will be transformational for the Group, and it comes just a few days after the signing of another important contract to build a high-speed railway in Texas in the United States."

Construction on the tunnelling contract is due to begin by the end of 2021.

Once work begins, other North East Link projects will be tendered, including an overhaul of the Eastern Freeway, Melbourne’s first dedicated busway, the completion of the M80 Ring Road and 25km of walking and cycle paths.

Image: Melbourne (F11photo/Dreamstime)

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