CONTRACTS to build the West Gate Tunnel have been signed, the government of Victoria has announced.
Builders CPB/John Holland are reported to have begun moving into a construction compound in Footscray, where it is expected they will start work on the northern tunnel portal in January.
The six-lane tunnel is aimed at removing trucks from residential streets in the inner west as well as slashing congestion along the M1 corridor from Pakenham to Geelong.
Construction is to be partly bankrolled by a ten-year extension of the CityLink Concession deed.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the time for talking was over.
“This project will deliver a long-overdue alternative to the West Gate Bridge, create thousands of jobs and construction starts next month,” Premier Andrews said.
Treasurer Tim Pallas said it was all about delivering necessary infrastructure “that previous governments have either dithered on or put in the too hard basket”.
Ports minister Luke Donnellan said the Tunnel would provide a dedicated route to the Port of Melbourne.
Opposition leader Matthew Guy has released a statement criticising the government for costs associated with the project.
“Under Daniel Andrews, (road company) Transurban is the winner while CityLink motorists in the south-east and north are losing out,” Mr Guy said.
“Higher tolls, longer tolls, new tolls and a city access tax. That’s what Daniel Andrews has signed us up to.”