Fixing the missing link in Melbourne's freeway network
The North East Link Tunnels PPP is Victoria’s biggest road project and Australia’s largest PPP. It includes 6.5km three lane twin tunnels, with interchanges and intelligent transport systems connecting the Metropolitan ring road (M80) to the Eastern Freeway (M3), completing a ring road around Melbourne.
Construction started in 2022 and more than 4,400 people work on the project as at July 2023, with 10,000 jobs expected to be created over the project life. When finished, the project will benefit the growing population of North East Melbourne as traffic is removed from local roads, access to the Eastern Freeway is substantially improved, cycling paths are upgraded and new community spaces are created.
The project’s scope includes 6.5km three lane twin tunnels, with interchanges and intelligent transport systems connecting the Metropolitan Ring Road (M80) to the Eastern Freeway (M3), completing a ring road around Melbourne. Up to 135,000 vehicles will use North East Link each day, which will help to take 15,000 trucks off local roads and skip 18 traffic lights on a trip to the airport.
The North East Link Tunnels PPP is being delivered by the Spark Consortium which includes CIMIC Group companies, Pacific Partnerships and CPB Contractors, as well as essential services company Ventia and other partners. Spark will deliver design and construction of the twin tunnels, which are expected to start operation in 2028.
Spark will operate and maintain the North East Link Tunnels with consortium member Ventia for a 25-year term.
Social inclusion and enhanced green spaces
New opportunities for social inclusion are being created as Spark opens doors for more people from different backgrounds to be part of the project through its employment program, a dedicated training facility called The Link, and its partnership with a social enterprise nursery.
Spark is committed to recruiting 1,000 priority jobseekers as it builds the North East Link Tunnels over the next five years, including people with a disability and those who experience family violence or long-term unemployment and have a background as a migrant, refugee and / or asylum seeker, or who are re-entering the civilian workforce after serving in the Australian Defence Force.
Australian’s largest social enterprise nursery, Yarra View Bushland Nursery, employs more than 85 people living with a disability and is supplying plants for North East Link to give two free native trees per household to locals living near the tunnelling works, including wattles, bottlebrushes and gum trees. Another 30,000 trees will be planted in the community, including local schools, sports facilities, streets, parks and reserves.
The project’s tunnels are creating more open space for new parklands and wetlands, equivalent to 50 Melbourne Cricket Grounds.