Premier Ted Baillieu and Roads Minister Terry Mulder began the first stage of the geotechnical drilling at Alexandra Parade in Clifton Hill today as part of preliminary investigations for the landmark East West Link project.
Mr Baillieu said the Victorian Coalition Government had allocated $15 million in this year's Budget to develop the business case and undertake preliminary planning for the East West Link.
"The East West Link is a significant project that will transform the way people move around Melbourne in a way not seen since CityLink and the city rail loop were constructed," Mr Baillieu said.
"The Coalition Government has reviewed and enhanced the East West Link project. The project would connect the Eastern Freeway to CityLink and connect CityLink to the Port of Melbourne, as well as a connection between the Port of Melbourne to the Western Ring Road.
"The improved East West Link would provide an alternative to the M1 corridor, remove traffic from Melbourne's inner-arterial roads, particularly at Hoddle Street where the Eastern Freeway ends abruptly, and link industry in Melbourne's north, east and west," Mr Baillieu said.
Mr Mulder said this was a massive project of a scale not seen before in Victoria, and extensive geotechnical drilling was needed in order to understand the rock conditions under the ground for tunnelling.
"Preliminary investigations for the East West Link will involve drilling around fifty 100 millimetre boreholes at locations along Alexandra Parade and around Parkville and surrounding areas over several months, with each site taking around two to three days to complete," Mr Mulder said.
"Drilling will be done to depths of around 60 metres so that engineers can get an idea of the type and strength of rock beneath the surface, as well as the depth of the water table, all of which are important elements when planning and designing the construction of major tunnels."
Mr Mulder said geotechnical testing would be used to establish a rock profile for the project corridor, and drilling in a particular area did not necessarily mean the East West Link would be situated or have an impact on that location.
"The drilling we are doing now will supplement the desktop information already available, and help us to develop an understanding of how and where the project might be built," Mr Mulder said.
"The East West Link has the potential to deliver enormous benefits, and we'll work with the community to plan out a project which responds to local concerns but delivers a cross-city alternative to alleviate congestion and ensure travel time reliability for families and freight."
Mr Baillieu said this work was essential to ascertain how much the East West Link project would cost and how to achieve the best outcome for the community.
"Victoria was disappointed that the Federal Budget failed to provide any funding to assist the Victorian Government to progress the East West Link," Mr Baillieu said.
"East West Link is a project that will drive productivity gain and generate economic growth.
"Commonwealth funding is essential to take this project off the drawing boards and into construction," Mr Baillieu said.
Residents and businesses surrounding geotechnical investigation sites will be notified of the works commencing, with more information available at www.linkingmelbourne.vic.gov.au