Brix Projects have been hard at work on the North Connex project, a 9-kilometre motorway tunnel in Sydney which will connect the M1 Pacific Motorway to the M2 Hills Motorway to significantly ease congestion on our roads. We’re immensely proud to play a role in shaping the future of Sydney, and in this case study we’ll shed some light on the need for this project and the ways in which Brix Projects team members have been involved.
North Connex – What is It?
North Connex is Australia’s largest ever underground road project, coming in at a cost of $3 billion. It consists of a nine-kilometre twin tunnel which will link the M1 Pacific Motorway at Wahroonga to the Hills M2 Motorway at West Pennant Hills. These widely used motorways enable motorists to directly access the CBD and head down south to Melbourne, and they are used by both private and commercial vehicles. Upon completion, North Connex is expected to remove around 5,000 trucks (per day) from Pennant Hills Road, easing congestion and significantly improving transit times and safety for all.
Upon completion, Sydney’s north will be connected to the Sydney Orbital Network and the North Connex tunnel will also form part of the National Highway route which circumnavigates the country and passes through all mainland state capitals. The project came about after an unsolicited bid from Transurban was submitted, and construction is being managed by Lend Lease and Bouygues Construction Joint Venture (LLBJV).
Here are some key facts to be aware of:
- The NSW State Government is contributing $573 Million to the project
- The Australian Federal Government is contributing $412 Million to the project
- The project is due for completion in 2020
Benefits provided by North Connex include:
- North Connex will benefit all Sydneysiders, but especially those in the Hills District as it will allow motorists to bypass 21 sets of traffic lights along Pennant Hills Road. This will make for safer, more efficient travel and reduce traffic in residential streets
- It will provide alternative access to the CBD for residents of Sydney’s north, helping motorists avoid up to 40 traffic lights on the Pacific Highway and enjoy a hassle-free commute
- Opens up the ability for motorists to drive from Newcastle to Melbourne without encountering any traffic lights
- Improvements to local air quality and reduction in traffic related noise pollution by redirecting around 5,000 trucks/buses from Pennant Hills Road into the underground tunnel
- Improved public transport efficiency
- Approximately 8,700 new jobs created for NSW
- Boost to local and national economies due to reduced risk of freight delays and more reliable journeys for all road users.
The project has an extensive scope of work which extends far beyond just the 9km twin-tunnel. In total, there is more than 21 kilometres of tunnelling involved. Associated infrastructure has also been built, for example: approaches, control centres, lighting, ventilation systems, signage, road integration and more.
In total, the NSW government has estimated that the project will create around 8,700 jobs. Workers in a variety of roles have been based at one of the four major tunnelling sites, at the concrete batching plant or at surface work sites such as the Northern Ventilation Facility, Motorway Control Centre and Tunnel Support Facilities. Spoil is also being transported to the Hornsby Quarry.
On any given day there are around 1,500 people on site, all of whom are gaining valuable experience and helping to shape the future of Sydney by working on Australia’s longest road tunnelling project. There is a strong emphasis on providing flexible and varied employment opportunities, and the project has been designed to provide opportunities for young people, increase the skills of the existing workforce and help disadvantaged and under-represented groups into employment. To assist with this, the North Connex Hub has been established at a cost of $10 million. Throughout the project more than 300 workers are expected to receive training and qualifications from this facility, opening up new career opportunities and securing a new generation of skilled workers for Australia.
Employment Targets of the North Connex Project
- 5% Indigenous Representation of Staff and Labour
- 20% of all Trade Work Completed by Apprentices
- Up Skilling of Lendlease Bouygues Joint Venture Staff and Workforce
Currently there is a strong need for tunnellers, engineers and cost controllers; but employment opportunities exist in a wide range of industries including:
- Electrical Trades
- Mechanical Trades
- Building Trades
- Mobile Plant Operator / Truck Driver / Tunnel Borer
- Cleaning Staff
- Crane Operators
- Labourer / Trades Assistant
- Metal Trades
- Health and Safety
To help meet this demand, Brix Projects has been called upon to provide skilled workers in order to meet demand and ensure the project is completed on time, on budget and to a high-quality standard.
Brix Projects has been involved with North Connex since commencement in 2016, from the very first stage of the project – tunnelling. Our team members have been responsible for operating heavy machinery such as roadheaders, shotcreting, rockbolting, earthwork equipment, gantry cranes and conveyers to remove sandstone and shale from the project alignment.
In addition to tunnelling, Brix Projects was also one of the selected agencies responsible for supplying Licensed Electricians to a nationally recognised electrical contractor who was contracted to carry out the fit-out phase. This phase requires specialised skills as it includes the installation of road pavement, lights, emergency response systems, electrical cabling, signage, surveillance and ventilation. These systems are crucial to the success of the project and safety of future motorists, and it was essential that only candidates of the highest calibre were put forward for consideration.
Our electricians have vast experience in industrial projects, and many also hold advanced qualifications including sought after High Risk Work Licences in areas such as EWP, forklifts, mobile crane, loaders and working at heights ticket (over 11m). We are immensely proud of our team of dedicated electricians who have been working both day and night shifts; 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Work commenced in March 2019, and as of December 2019 it is expected that our electricians will remain on the job for another 3+ months. Throughout their time on the project, they have shown absolute dedication, despite the long hours and half hour commutes to the tunnels on a bus which travels at 10km an hour.
Some of the tasks our electricians have been working on during the mechanical stage include:
- Installation of Tray, Cable and Lighting
- Installation of Electrical Devices
- Installation of Terminating Cables
- Verification Testing
- HV Electricians have been completing works on sub-stations along the course of the tunnels.
Our electrician’s aptitude for leadership and commitment to quality workmanship has not gone unnoticed, with many of our team members being appointed Team Leader positions which gave them the opportunity to run their own small crews whilst completing some of the works.
As the pre-commissioning stage comes to a close, we are now working towards the commissioning phase, due to finish in early 2020. This stage is more technical, but we have the utmost confidence in the ability of our highly accomplished and skilled electricians to support our client at every stage.
Brix Projects look forward to continuing our role in the North Connex development, helping to deliver a world-class transport system for Sydney.