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Boring work, but Cross River Rail project is already producing a hole lot of dirt

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Tunnelling for Cross River Rail will remove enough rock and dirt to fill the Gabba. But planners have other uses in mind.

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Two massive tunnel boring machines are being assembled to start work on the underground crossings required for the Cross River Rail project.

The machines were used on the Sydney Metro and will start their Brisbane work at Woolloongabba, digging under the river to the proposed Albert Street Station, then on to Roma Street Station before re-emerging at Normanby.

In the process, the machines and workers will help excavate approximately 1.425 million cubic metres of rock and dirt, known as spoil. That is enough to fill the Gabba stadium.

Already, before the machines have even been put on track, spoil has been distributed across Brisbane. Some 21,600 banked cubic metres has gone to BMI at Larapinta, where an old sand quarry is being rehabilitated, while 17,700 cubic metres went to TradeCoast Central.

Another 13,850 cubic metres went to the Neilsen Group at Brendale to be repurposed for sale, while 6,400m3 was used to prop up a private development at Ellen Street Carina. The haulage contracts give priority to the spoil being put to good use.

Sites at Swanbank and Pine Mountain have also been earmarked to receive the spoil, as well as, potentially, Brisbane Airport and the Port of Brisbane, although neither have formalised any such plans.

State Development Minister Kate Jones, who recently inspected work by the company Herrenknecht to prepare the machine, said the underground would transform the aboveground and support other projects.

“Right across southeast Queensland, other projects are benefitting from the spoil that we’re excavating at Cross River Rail,” Jones said.

“Construction is vital to rebuilding our economy. This is what Labor governments do.

“Without the Palaszczuk Government, this project would not be going ahead – the LNP tore up the funding agreement and continue to talk down this project.

“We’ll continue to invest in major construction projects that drive our economic recovery.”

While the boring machines will excavate the bulk of material, workers with earthmoving equipment have already been busy removing spoil at Boggo Road (27,100 banked cubic metres), Woolloongabba (26,300 cubic metres), Roma Street (11,200 cubic metres) and Albert Street (9050 cubic metres).

However, in the process the CFMEU has raised concerns over the management of asbestos removal at Albert Street, which today led to work being halted on all sites for a three-hour safety audit. The union had previously warned of a COVID-19 risk after a n Australian Building and Construction Commission official flew from Melbourne to Brisbane for meetings.

Among the CFMEU’s many concerns is the role of contractor CPB, whose work in Victoria prompted Jones to tighten the compliance and oversight regime on Cross River Rail. CPB has also been involved in an ongoing dispute over its performance on the Gold Coast Light Rail project.

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