North East Link’s $11.1B primary package contract awarded

North East Link will connect the M80 Ring Road to an upgraded Eastern Freeway, slashing travel times by up to 35 minutes.
Image courtesy of North East Link Project.

Preferred bidder Spark consortium has inked a $11.1 billion deal with the Victorian Government to build, operate and maintain the tunnels of Melbourne’s long-awaited North East Link over the next 25 years.

The consortium comprises of CIMIC Group companies Pacific Partnerships, CPB Contractors and Ventia, as well as WeBuild, GS Engineering and Construction, China Construction Oceania, Capella Capital, John Laing Investments and DIF.

The project will include a tunnel almost two kilometres longer than initially planned, which Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan said would simplify the interchange’s design and preserve open space.

“This is another really good example of how, when we have the opportunity to do more after listening to the local community, whilst we’re in the local area undertaking these works, we grab those opportunities,” Ms Allan said.

“The tunnel’s the missing link that fills that gap in our road network that’s been talked about for the best part of 60 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 road will link Metropolitan Ring Road to the Eastern Freeway and include road upgrades, the creation of Melbourne’s first busway and 25 kilometres of upgraded walking and cycling paths.

Greensborough Road will also be transformed into a tree-lined boulevard.

Premier Daniel Andrews said the tunnelling package 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.

The Primary Package of the project comprises construction of twin three-lane tunnels approximately six kilometres in length passing under Banyule Flats and the Yarra River, as well as provision of tunnel systems, intelligent transport systems, tolling infrastructure, noise walls, shared use paths and associated infrastructure.

Originally, the package was also proposed to include construction of seven kilometres of freeway and new interchanges, but much of this additional scope was moved to secondary packages in November 2020. The Primary Package PPP is the largest component of the North East Link project.

CIMIC Group Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Juan Santamaria said CIMIC Group’s revenue from the project will be $3.8 billion, which will be largely received over the construction period with the remainder during the operation phase.

“This is an important project for the people of Victoria so we’re delighted to have reached contract close and be ready to begin work. We’re proud to be part of a project that will create more jobs for local people, and, when complete, alleviate congestion on local roads,” Mr Santamaria said.

Pacific Partnerships Managing Director Martin D’Uva said: “As a long-term industrial sponsor and partner, our PPP expertise and major project experience will deliver high-quality transport assets that will improve the connectivity of Melbourne’s growing communities and provide a seamless, end-to-end service for our client.”

CPB Contractors Managing Director Jason Spears said: “Safely delivering new road infrastructure is a core capability for CPB Contractors and we’re committed to engaging with local workforce, businesses and communities to maximise the social and economic benefits that this major project will create.”

Construction will commence later this year and operations will run to 2053.

The project will be completed by 2028.

No extra properties will need to be compulsorily acquired as part of the design changes, but a voluntary purchase scheme will be available for affected homes.

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