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It's the Andrews government's marquee project, an $11 billion rail tunnel that will ease congestion on the metropolitan rail network for decades.
But engineers who have worked on the Metro Tunnel fear Melbourne's CBD will become clogged with trucks as the state government races to meet three deadlines it has placed on the project – to have construction underway in 2018, to have key tunnelling completed through the CBD by 2022, and the network operating in 2026.
Under Victoria's fixed four-year terms of government, all three happen to be election years.
The Sunday Age can reveal that, in order to meet those deadlines, the CBD's already congested roads will have a further 438,000 trucks added to the traffic burden over the four years of tunnelling work, as dirt, rock and supplies are trucked through the heart of the city.
The CBD's roads will have a further 438,000 trucks added to the traffic burden over the four years of Metro rail tunnel work. Photo: Craig SillitoeThose trucks will run through the CBD every five minutes, 24 hours per day, for four years, and will impact the city's commuters, office workers, residents and retailers.
According to one engineer who has worked on the planning for the project, that truck burden is only necessary due to the tight deadline placed on the project by the Andrews government.
He claims the state government's decision not to use advanced tunnel boring machines (TBMs) to build the entire tunnel means 430,000 semi-trailer loads of dirt and rock will have to be excavated from underneath the CBD, loaded onto trucks, and driven through the centre of the city.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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