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Cost of Australian motorway tunnel hits $1.3bn


COSTS OF building a proposed motorway tunnel in Sydney, Australia, have risen to almost $1.3bn following the adoption a $213M package of improvements.

The preferred option for the M4 East tunnel in the city has been extended by almost 1km in response to community pressure and the outcome of studies.

Client New South Wales Road & Traffic Authority's original plan for a short tunnel was found to have a negative impact on the area around the original portal.

Roads minister Carl Scully said the changes will be incorporated into an environmental impact statement to be released for community comment later this year.

'If the government decides to proceed with the project, construction could start in 2007 and the tunnel could be open to traffic in late 2009 or early 2010, ' he said.

The state government gave the go-ahead for investigations into the M4 East motorway in July 2002. Up to 86,000 vehicles a day use the existing road with speeds dropping to well below 25km/h in peak periods.

Construction of the motorway link would help reduce the volume of local traffic on local roads as well as creating potential for improving freight services and public transport.

lAnother major Sydney road scheme reached a milestone recently when a 100t road header machine tunnelled its way to daylight after 10 months underground. Unusually, the two tunnelling machines for the $485M Cross City Tunnel were lowered into a shaft in the middle of the 2.1km route and worked away from one another.

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