West Gate Tunnel project delayed again

The completion date for Melbourne’s trouble-plagued West Gate Tunnel has been delayed another year.

Tolling giant Transurban told investors on Thursday the project won’t be completed by 2023, due to an ongoing dispute over where to dump tonnes of contaminated soil.

“Due to the availability of disposal sites to accept tunnel spoil, and following a project schedule review taking this timing into account, 2023 project completion no longer considered achievable,” the company’s half-year presentation reads.

The $6.7 billion tunnel, which will be an alternative to the city’s heavily-congested West Gate Bridge, was originally scheduled to be completed in 2022.

But tunnelling was delayed in 2019 after soil contaminated with PFAS was discovered at the construction site. 

Hundreds of workers on the project have lost their jobs because of the delay. 

Transurban remains in a legal dispute with contractors CPB and John Holland, as well as the Victorian government over who should pay for additional costs on the delayed project.

The Victorian government, meanwhile, is also being sued over plans to dump landfill soil close to homes.

Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan said Transurban has had the best part of three years to resolve the soil issues. 

“Transurban have effectively told the shareholders today that they are prepared to lose millions and millions of dollars in revenue because of their failure to resolve their dispute with their builder. That’s what’s at the heart of this delay,” she told reporters on Thursday.

“They’ve got to stop bickering and get on and start delivering this critical project.”

Ms Allan said the government would leave “no stone unturned to get this project completed”.

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