Metro Tunnel gets underway

The first major works of the Melbourne Metro Tunnel project started last month with the closure of Franklin and A’Beckett streets.

Franklin St between Swanston and Victoria streets and A’Beckett St between Swanston and Stewart streets will remain closed for the next five years to make way for construction of the new CBD North Station.

In preparation for the station construction, managing contractor John Holland will relocate more than 100 underground utility services.

The relocation of utilities such as power, gas, water and telecommunications is expected to take six months ending in July, although the Melbourne Metro Rail Authority (MMRA) states that these time frames are indicative and are subject to change.

Over the next six months, high and low voltage electric cabling will be installed along Franklin and A’Beckett streets and across Swanston and Victoria streets.

Gas main installation will take place along Victoria, Swanston, A’Beckett, Stewart, Franklin and Elizabeth streets.

Sewerage mains, water mains and stormwater drains will be relocated and installed along A’Beckett and Franklin streets.

And finally, telecommunication services will be relocated along A’Beckett St. All relocation of these services will be done via open cut trenching and boring.

Other early works include the excavation of two shafts at Franklin and A’Beckett streets.

Steel and concrete structures will be driven into the ground to create supporting walls for the excavation. These materials will also be used to construct the foundation of the temporary acoustic sheds that will be built around the site to minimise noise and dust pollution while the excavation takes place.

The Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan and the Minister for Roads Luke Donnellan announced late last year that more than $25 million was going towards road and traffic management upgrades to facilitate the closures.

In an effort to ease traffic flow around the area, Stewart St will reopen to allow for one-way northbound traffic from A’Beckett St.

LaTrobe St will also face some changes, with parallel car parks between King and Exhibition streets being removed, and three new parking bays being constructed between Swanston and Russell streets.

The timing of traffic light signals will also be adjusted, as will the width of median strips along LaTrobe St.

Some 73 of the parallel parking spaces and eight of the loading bays along Victoria St between Leicester and Nicholson streets will also turn into a “No Stopping” zone from 7am – 9.30 am during the week to provide an alternative traffic route to compensate for the closure of Franklin St.

“These small changes will keep Melbourne moving while we build the Metro Tunnel and a better transport system for Victoria,” Mr Donnellan said.

Preparation for the CBD South precinct was conducted over January and involved installing safety hoarding around the empty retail area beneath the Westin Hotel. John Holland has taken over the space as a secure area for work crews to use during construction.

Hours of construction are 7am – 6pm during the week, and 7am – 1pm Saturdays. CBD News will update the local community with the latest information as the Metro Tunnel works continue.

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