Burnley Tunnel

Burnley Tunnel

Infobox tunnel
name = Burnley Tunnel

caption = View in December 2000, just before opening
line =
location = Melbourne, Australia
coordinates =
route = CityLink tollway eastnound
status =
start = Southbank
end = Burnley
startwork =
open = December 22, 2000
owner =
operator = Transurban
character =
construction= Roadheader with some cut and cover
length = 3.4 km
lanes = 3
speed = 80 km/h
hielevation =
height =
grade =

The Burnley Tunnel is a highway tunnel in Melbourne, Australia, which carries traffic eastbound from the West Gate Freeway to the Monash Freeway. It is part of the CityLink Tollway operated by Transurban. Running under the Yarra River and the inner suburbs of Richmond and Burnley, the tunnel provides a bypass of the central business district.


The tunnel was constructed between 1996 and 2000 by Transfield-Obayashi Joint Venture. Prior to its opening to traffic, the tunnel was opened to the public to walk through from Southbank to Burnley, on December 16, 2000.

The tunnel was opened to traffic on December 22, 2000. In February 2001 it was found that a wall panel was cracked with 5 litres of water a second entering the tunnel. [cite web
title=Mysterious crack floods Melbourne's CityLink tunnel
work=7.30 Report
] The cause was later found to be floor sections lifting from water pressure, and modifications to correct this being approved in November 2001. Also in 2001 Transfield Obayashi Joint Venture agreed to pay Transurban $157 million in damages in an out-of-court settlement over late completion of the tunnel. [cite web
title=Melbourne CityLink Burnley Tunnel cost fight

Transurban launched further legal action against the Transfield Obayashi Joint Venture in 2007, after radar tests indicated the tunnel walls were thinner than that specified in the contract, possibly resulting in the tunnel not lasting for the proposed 100-year design life. [cite web
title=Transurban action over tunnel walls
work=Sydney Morning Herald
date=January 23, 2007
] Further tunnel leaks were also discovered in 2007, but were unrelated to the tunnel fire. [cite web
title=Burnley Tunnel leaks again
work=Herald Sun
date=July 18, 2007

2007 fire

On March 23 2007 just before 10 am, a pile-up occurred in the tunnel involving three trucks and four cars. The crash resulted in an explosion and a subsequent fire which reached temperatures in excess of 1000 degrees Celsius (1800 °F) according to firefighters,cite news|url=http://www.theage.com.au/news/general/motorists-flee-tunnel-fire/2007/03/23/1174597835500.html |title=Cars reduced to balls of metal in tunnel fire|date=2007-03-23 |publisher=The Age |accessdate=2007-03-23] and forced the evacuation of motorists from both the Burnley and nearby Domain tunnels. Three people died in the accident, one was an Australian Olympic cyclist Damian McDonald. He won a gold medal in the road team time trial at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Canada, and also represented Australia at the 1996 Summer Olympics. [cite news|url=http://www.news.com.au/story/0,23599,21442542-2,00.html|title=Family mourns the loss of Olympian|date=2007-03-25|publisher=News Limited|accessdate=2007-03-25] , Darren Hartley Sporn father of two daughters, which owned a plumbing business. Approximately 400 people were advised by the tunnel's safety system to abandon their cars, to leave their keys in the ignition, and to evacuate the tunnel after the collision.

The accident occurred after a truck broke down in the left hand lane. Safety systems allegedly closed the left lane and a response vehicle was on its way to assist the broken-down truck. Two cars travelling in the left hand lane had come up behind the broken-down truck and were attempting to merge into the centre lane. Another truck travelling in the left lane came up behind them and also attempted to merge to the right, but it failed to either stop behind the stationary vehicles or merge successfully. It then collided with vehicles in both the left and middle lanes, resulting in a multi-vehicle pile up involving 4 cars and three trucks. It is believed an explosion resulted from the ignition of a ruptured fuel tank of a vehicle involved in the crash. [http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2007/03/23/1174597890512.html Other reports] of the details vary, however.

The following traffic came to a stop and approximately 200 vehicles became stranded inside the tunnel. The Public Address & Radio Rebroadcast Systems advised motorists to turn off their ignition, leave the keys in, and to evacuate the tunnel. Emergency exits are located throughout the tunnel and lead to separate pedestrian tunnels. Some motorists walked the 1km back along the roadway to the western tunnel entrance. Approximately 400 people were evacuated, three of whom were taken to hospital. Hundreds waited at the tunnel's west entrance until emergency services advised it was safe to remove their vehicles. The tunnel suffered some damage to cables and other internal infrastructure, but is believed the structure was undamaged by the fire.

84 firefighters responded within 5 minutes of the crash occurring, emergency personnel were able to gain access to the Burnley tunnel on foot via a separate emergency tunnel linking the Burnley to the Domain tunnel. Fire hoses were carried through to the crash site while emergency vehicles were stationed in the Domain Tunnel. A number of fire appliances were transported contra-flow from the exit portal of the tunnel to the crash site. The fire was estimated to have burned in excess of 1000 degrees Celsius at its peak, the deluge system was activated instantly and this was deemed by firefighters to have greatly aided in keeping the fire under control. The smoke extraction system functioned as planned and removed toxic fumes from the tunnel and out into the open air. Smoke was vented to the ventilation stack in Southbank.

Metropolitan Ambulance Service Paramedics were sent in to treat evacuees if required. St John Ambulance Australia emergency medical teams were also put on standby in case the accident was deemed as a major disaster and many more injured and fatalities had arisen.


The Burnley Tunnel is 3.4 km long and comprises 460 m of cut and cover at the west portal, 2.84 km of driven tunnel, and 180 metres of cut and cover at the east portal. The gradient at the west end is 6.2% downhill for traffic, then relatively level until a 5.2% grade out of the tunnel.cite web
title=Tunnels and Underground Structures
author=Jian Zhao, Zhao, J. Nicholas Shirlaw, Rajan Krishnan
publisher=Taylor & Francis
pages=pages 158-9
] During construction a shaft located at the midpoint of the tunnel was used to speed up work, as it provided another two working faces for the roadheaders used. The shaft is today used for ventilation and emergency egress, in addition to a 1420 metre long pedestrian tunnel that parallels the eastern part of the tunnel. Eight cross passages link the main and emergency tunnels, two more cross connects provide an emergency exit to the Domain Tunnel, and two emergency refuges are also located in the tunnel. Unlike the shallower and shorter Domain Tunnel, it passes deep under the Yarra. It was subject to significant engineering problems and delays during construction due to unexpectedly high water pressures at its maximum depth of 65 m.

A variable speed limit applies to traffic in the tunnel. In normal circumstances the speed limit is 80 km/h, but a 40 km/h speed limit applies during maintenance. The speed limit during peak periods is often reduced to 60 km/h to prevent unnecessary congestion at the Monash Freeway. Regular radio transmissions can be received while in the tunnel because many radio stations have installed their own transmitters. Normal radio broadcasts can be interrupted by management announcements over all channels.


External links

* [http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/gallery/0,23607,5022193-5007150,00.html news.com.au images]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Burnley, Victoria — Infobox Australian Place | type = suburb name = Burnley city = Melbourne state = vic caption = lga = City of Yarra postcode = 3121 pop = 708 (2006)Census 2006 AUS | id = SSC21003 | name = Abbotsford (State Suburb) | accessdate = 2007 10 01 |… …   Wikipedia

  • Burnley — For the larger local government district, see Burnley (borough). For other meanings see Burnley (disambiguation) Coordinates: 53°47′20″N 2°14′53″W /  …   Wikipedia

  • Domain Tunnel — The Domain Tunnel entrance adjacent to the Batman Avenue exit ramp Overview Location Melbourne, Australia Coordinates …   Wikipedia

  • Crossings of the Yarra River — Spencer Street Bridge The Yarra River is a river in southern Victoria, Australia; which flows though the city of Melbourne. Over the river s 242 kilometre length there are many structures that bridge the river. The following is a partial list of… …   Wikipedia

  • CityLink — For other uses of City Link , see City Link (disambiguation). See also: Monash Freeway, Tullamarine Freeway, and West Gate Freeway / …   Wikipedia

  • Melbourne Critical Mass — Cycling: Victoria, Australia Organisations Bicycle Victoria Melbourne Critical Mass Events Around the Bay in a Day Austral Wheel Race Amy s Ride Great Victorian Bike Ride …   Wikipedia

  • North East Link — The North East Link is a freeway planned for Melbourne s north eastern suburbs by the State government of Victoria as part of the Victorian Transport Plan and estimated to cost over AUD $6 billion. It was first proposed in the 1969 Melbourne… …   Wikipedia

  • Monash Freeway — Formerly …   Wikipedia

  • Nepean Highway — Point Nepean Road …   Wikipedia

  • Chandler Highway — Length 1.4 km (1 …   Wikipedia