Melbourne’s North East Link Tunnels

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Project Update by Victor Romero, CPEng, PE, ENV SP

North East Link is Victoria’s largest road project. It will fix the missing link in the city’s freeway network, take 15,000 trucks off local roads a day, and slash travel times by up to 35 minutes.

The contract to build the North East Link Tunnels was awarded to the Spark Consortium in late 2021 under a Public Private Partnership (PPP). The Spark construction joint venture consists of WeBuild, CPB Contractors, GS Engineering & Construction, and China Construction Oceania. McMillen Jacobs Associates was appointed by the Spark Consortium to help design and deliver the major underground elements of the project, which include twin tunnels, their related portals, cut-and-cover structures, and underground ventilation structures.

The tunneling and roadway segment represents more than a third of North East Link’s multimodal works. The tunnel structures will be excavated predominantly within moderately weathered to fresh Silurian bedrock (siltstone, sandstone, mudstone), typical of inland Melbourne. Key tunneling challenges to consider include varying weathering profiles and groundwater management.

McMillen Jacobs commenced detailed design earlier this year and is providing specialist underground structures design services for major TBM tunnel, cut-and-cover, and open-cut packages of works.

North East Link

Highlight of the roadways North East Link will connect.


Our firm’s project history in Melbourne dates back to the early 1980s on the Melbourne Underground Rail Loop, and the CityLink tunnels in the 1990s. The scale of the North East Link design requires McMillen Jacobs’ local and international resources to deliver this critical project, and we are delighted to be a part of Victoria’s continued growth, and proud to be working with our peers and the Spark Consortium to design and build a world-class highway solution.