The Government of Victoria in Australia has shortlisted construction firms Laing O’Rourke and CPB to deliver A$200m ($142.26m) early works on the A$15.8bn ($11.24bn) North East Link in Melbourne.

The first works package is scheduled to commence next year after securing planning approvals.

It will provide a range of power, water and other utility works to support the construction of the North East Link road project.

The main work on the scheme involves the construction of a 6km tunnel under Banyule Flats and the Yarra River and upgrading of the Eastern Freeway.

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The state government said that the project’s Environment Effects Statement (EES) will go on display this month.

“The state government is also soliciting bids for the A$7bn-A$9bn package to design the project and build the tunnels.”

Furthermore, the government will organise community engagement sessions across Melbourne’s north-east and eastern suburbs over April and May.

The state government is also soliciting bids for the A$7bn-A$9bn package to design the project and build the tunnels. After shortlisting, a tender will be launched later this year.

The project is expected to provide the missing link between the Eastern Freeway and the M80 Ring Road. It is expected to cut travel time and take 15,000 trucks off local streets, as well as generate nearly 10,300 jobs.

Construction is expected to commence in 2020 with a scheduled opening in 2027.

Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said: “Early works on this massive project will begin next year, paving the way for major construction. The North East Link has been talked about for decades, we’re getting it done.”