The Andrews Labor Government has revealed the names of the two massive tunnel boring machines that will build the West Gate Tunnel, as work to construct the tunnel entrances ramps up.
The Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan visited the project’s northern portal site today to announce the winners of the “Ground Breaking Women of Victoria” competition
The 90 metre long, 4,000 tonne tunnel boring machines will be called Bella and Vida.
Born in Williamstown, Bella Guerin was the first woman to graduate from a university in Australia in 1883 and went on to teach at Loreto Convent in Ballarat.
Vida Goldstein was a ground-breaking campaigner for women’s rights, establishing the right for females to vote and stand for election.
The tunnel boring machines that will be used for the West Gate Tunnel will be the biggest in the southern hemisphere and will arrive early next year.
The competition winners will be invited onto the West Gate Tunnel worksite next year to watch as the machines that they named are assembled.
Tunnelling tradition dictates a TBM cannot start work until it has been given a female name, a sign of good luck for the project ahead – a tradition dating back to the 1500s when miners and military engineers working with explosives, for underground excavation, prayed to Saint Barbara for protection.
Two huge retaining walls have been built either side of the tunnel site, with around 1000 support columns driven into the ground to help keep workers safe as they dig down 22 metres to establish the launch site for the tunnel boring machines.
In the coming weeks, the steel frame will go up on the massive shed at the Yarraville tunnelling hub site, on the other side of Somerville Road.
Construction is well underway on the West Gate Tunnel, with more than 3000 people already working on the project.
The tunnel will open in 2022.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan
“Just as Bella Guerin blazed a trail as the first woman to graduate from an Australian university, the ‘Bella’ TBM will help to connect thousands of students in the western suburbs, Geelong and Ballarat to educational opportunities.”
“These massive tunnel boring machines will be working 24/7 to deliver an alternative to the West Gate Bridge, slashing travel times and taking thousands of trucks off local streets in the west.”