The WestConnex is Australia’s largest road infrastructure project, delivering 33-kilometres of motorway and road infrastructure through Sydney’s west. It aims to support Sydney’s growing population and stimulate economic growth. The WestConnex will ease congestion, connect communities, allow people and freight to move more freely, while creating tens of thousands of jobs.
Set to open in 2023, the M4-M5 Link is the third stage of WestConnex. It will link the new M4 Motorway at Haberfield to the New M5 Motorway at St Peters.
This groundbreaking project will provide the Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) sector with exciting opportunities.
The WestConnex is being delivered in four major stages, with two of the stages already complete. The New M4 opened in July 2019 and connects Haberfield to Parramatta and the M4, saving motorists an average of 35 minutes. The M8, which opened in July 2020, has 9km twin tunnels which connects the M5 at Kingsgrove to a new interchange at St Peters.
The M4-M5 Link Project is the last and most critical component of WestConnex, with the M4-M5 Link Tunnels being the first stage managed. In February 2021, roadheaders carved their way from the M4-M5 Link Tunnels into the M8 Motorway, connecting the two stages of the WestConnex project for the first time. This major milestone reached 41 metres underground at the St Peters Interchange, with Federal Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher declaring it would deliver “...major benefits to Sydney motorists in reduced travel times, less congestion, and greater safety.”
The $3.2 billion project has been described as a ‘missing link’ in Sydney’s motorway network. Once connected, the twin 7.5 kilometre tunnels will create an underground western bypass of the CBD and will accommodate up to four lanes of traffic in each direction.
Tunnel ventilation considerations
The WestConnex in-tunnel air quality monitoring program and ventilation systems have been designed to protect and improve the health of local communities and motorists using the tunnels. The project is committed to effectively managing air quality during the construction and operation of the WestConnex road network through its state-of-the-art technologies (such as monitoring and ventilation facilities), which helps keep the tunnel air clean.
Commendable features of the tunnels include the wider, flatter and higher design, resulting in a smoother journey with less stop-start driving, relieving surface congestion and fewer vehicle emissions.
Constructing the M4-M5 Link Tunnels would involve excavation of two mainline tunnels, each 7.5 kilometres long. Additional tunnels will provide connections, ventilation and temporary access for construction. At their deepest point, tunnels would be up to 55-metres below ground-level, with shallower sections approaching the interchanges and portals (tunnel entries and exits).
Aurecon and WSP delivering effective solutions
A joint venture between Aurecon and Jacobs is providing detailed design and construction phase services on the M4-M5 Link Tunnels project. The innovative company, which specialises in engineering and design, is responsible for the:
- digital engineering application in tunnel design
- optimising tunnel support through their progressive modelling techniques
- design of the rockbolt system
- additional lane at the St Peters interchange
Aurecon’s integrated service stems from their specialised and multidisciplinary team of tunnel consultants. For this project, they have employed experience across multiple disciplines, including geotechnical, drainage, fire systems, sustainability, structures, mechanical and electrical engineering.
WSP, a globally-recognised professional services firm, has been engaged on two separate packages of project works including the MEP.
The M&E works package includes the design of:
- the tunnel ventilation system
- HV and LV electrical systems
- tunnel mechanical and drainage systems
- tunnel communications systems
- building services for the ventilation and maintenance buildings
Career opportunities for the MEP sector
The MEP sector has been an integral part of this major project, engaging in the aspects of design, planning, setup, functioning, and maintenance. The WestConnex has created a multitude of opportunities for Australian businesses and people to get involved in the delivery of Australia's largest road project. It will generate about 10,000 jobs directly and indirectly, including hundreds of opportunities for apprentices and trainees.
The revolutionary M4-M5 Link Tunnels has provided a significant boost to the NSW economy and jobs during a challenging year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 7,000 workers and sub-contractors have been involved in the project to date, with more than a third from Western Sydney. This highlights the opportunities this project has created for local workers and businesses.
Furthermore, approximately 1,100 people are currently working on the M4-M5 Link Tunnels and more than 400 contracts have been signed with NSW-based suppliers and companies.
For updates on the future stages and associated employment opportunities, watch this space.
About CGC Recruitment
At CGC Recruitment, our team of experienced consultants cover all major infrastructure, engineering and construction sectors. We help clients throughout Australia deliver their projects by attracting the best candidates and talent. This sector-driven focus gives CGC a strong understanding of the project lifecycles, government policy and economic considerations impacting our industry and the demand for skilled professionals.
CGC Recruitment helps complex, large-scale development projects – like the M4-M5 Link Project – to achieve the best outcomes through recruiting outstanding professionals. Our highly-motivated team of experienced consultants help clients and candidates connect with major projects by bringing in the best talent and opportunities.
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