Melbourne will get a much-needed second river crossing as an alternative to the doomed East West Link project, reports say.
With many calling out for a second route to link the city's West Gate Freeway to CityLink, the $5.5 billion tunnel project is an innovative new road development aiming to provide just that.
Proposed by Transurban, the Victorian government has progressed to the third stage of the process of full approval.
As well as the new tolled tunnel across the Yarra, the proposal includes an elevated freeway along Footscray Road. Both will combine to relieve traffic congestion on the West Gate Bridge, while improving truck access to the Port of Melbourne and boosting transport and logistics in the area.
In turn, the development will work to "significantly reduce truck numbers in the inner west", and provide a cost benefit ratio of 1:6, a state government announcement explained.
The Victorian government said it is fully behind the project, and is awaiting news from the federal government on whether the long-touted solution to Melbourne's traffic woes will receive the funding it needs.
Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews remains optimistic, and welcomed Transurban's involvement in coming up with a plan.
"The government recognises and appreciates the effort Transurban has gone to in bringing forward this final proposal. The government will now consider it seriously and in accordance with the Market-led Proposal Interim Guideline," he recently explained.
"Building a direct link to the Port of Melbourne and a tunnel alternative to the West Gate Bridge would cut travel times for workers and businesses across Victoria."
As well as these advantages, Transurban estimated that the project will create around 3,500 construction jobs, as workers undertake the significant task of digging and sealing the tunnel. In turn, it will require a significant amount of cement and grouting products and expertise to get the most out of any investment.
Once the funding is finalised, the project could be started by the end of the year, and is expected to be finished by 2020, at which point it will open as the West Gate Tunnel.
"We need to take this action so that we've got a much better road network, a much more productive and therefore profitable state," Mr Andrews continued in a report by Australian Financial Review. "This is an outstanding proposal."
The coming weeks and months will see much work done to strike that fine balance to deal with the finances of the project."
To see a range of completed tunnel projects, including Melbourne's East Link twin tunnel development, check out our case study section.