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Thousands of tonnes of crushed rock from twin tunnels dug for a new metro line under Sydney Harbour and the central city will be moved by barge instead of truck in an attempt to allay residents' concerns about construction.
Councils and planners had warned that transporting massive amounts of spoil on trucks through city streets from Blues Point, at the tip of McMahons Point north of the harbour, and from Barangaroo in the south, would worsen road congestion.
In awarding a $2.8 billion contract for the 15.5-kilometre rail tunnels from Chatswood to Sydenham, Transport Minister Andrew Constance said the barging of spoil would reduce the number of truck movements in the city.
"Very pleasingly this is part of the arrangement that's been reached as part of this contract signing," he said.
Residents and businesses at Blues Point will still have to bear a 2100-square-metre construction site near the waterfront, which will be used as an entry point for the tunnelling. The site is near Harry Seidler's well-known Blues Point Tower.
About 8000 tonnes of soil will be brought to the surface at Blues Point.
While the use of barges might allay some fears, the NSW Port Authority has raised concerns about them impacting shipping channels on the harbour during construction.
The contract signed on Thursday is also for the excavation of six new underground stations, the demolition of buildings up to 22 storeys high and a crossover cavern at Barangaroo to allow trains to switch from one track to another.
Two of the companies in the winning consortium – CPB Contractors and John Holland – built 15-kilometre-long twin tunnels from Bella Vista in Sydney's north west to Epping as part of the first stage of the metro line.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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