Webuild consortium is preferred bidder for $5.3bn road project

By Leila Steed29 June 2021

Pietro Salini, CEO at Webuild (formerly Salini Impregilo) Pietro Salini, CEO at Webuild (formerly Salini Impregilo).

A consortium led by Italy-based construction giant Webuild has been selected as the preferred bidder for the main tunnelling package for Australia’s AU$15.8 billion (US$11.9 billion) North East Link road project.

Made up of an international financiers and contractors, the Spark consortium comprises Webuild, GS Engineering and Construction, CPB Contractors, China Construction Oceania, Ventia, Capella Capital, John Laing Investments, DIF and Pacific Partnerships.

The Spark consortium was chosen as the preferred bidder for the primary package over fellow consortias ViaNova and OneLink.

Valued at between AU$7 and AU$9 billion (US$5.3 and US$6.8 billion), the tunnelling package aims to “fix the missing link in Melbourne’s freeway network”, relieve congestion across the network and reduce travel times between the M80 and the Eastern Freeway by around 30 minutes.

It includes the construction of twin tunnels, each with three-lanes, 25km of foot and cycle paths, and will accommodate up to 135,000 vehicles daily. 

Pietro Salini, CEO of Webuild, said, “We are honoured to be part of the consortium that has been chosen as preferred bidder for the North East Link sustainable mobility project in Melbourne. It is the crowning achievement of our commitment to a country where we plan to put down roots for the long term.

“It is an accomplishment that will be transformational for the Group, and it comes just a few days after the signing of another important contract to build a high-speed railway in Texas in the United States.”

Said to be the largest road project in Victoria, the North East Link is expected to create more than 10,000 jobs in the region. 

The announcement was made by the Major Transport Infrastructure Authority (MTIA), which works alongside Australia’s Department for Transport and oversees major transport projects in souteastern state of Victoria.

MTIA said, “We’ll now work with the preferred bidder to negotiate a final contract and finalise their concept design for North East Link – ready to share details with the community before the end of the year.”

According to Webuild, which was recently awarded a €1 billion (US$1.2 billion) contract for rail extension works to the Brenner Base Tunnel connecting Austria and Italy, work on the North East Link road is expected to start later this year. Completion is currently scheduled for 2027.

Webuild – formerly known as Salini Impregilo – is currently carrying out several projects in Australia, the most notable of which is the hydroelectric project known as Snowy 2.0.

Described as Australia’s largest renewable energy project, Snowy 2.0 will connect the existing Tantangara and Talbingo damns in New South Wales. It will involve the construction of an underground power station and around 27km of tunnels that will provide “on-demand power while reusing water”.

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