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Working with the SPARK Consortium on NELP

Long exposure shot over a highway at night

CDSE had the pleasure of working on the tender for Victoria’s biggest road infrastructure project in history, The North East Link Program (NELP). It will finally provide the missing link in Melbourne’s freeway network between the M80 Western Ring Road and the Eastern Freeway. The major works, being the twin tunnel are proposed to be delivered  as a Public Private Partnership (PPP)  called the Primary Package and the balance of the works under alternate models called  the secondary packages.

Our client is WeBuild (formerly Salini-Impregilo) as part of the larger Spark consortium which includes GS Engineering and Construction, China Construction Oceania, Broadspectrum Australia, Capella Capital, John Laing Investments, and advisors Lend Lease Engineering.

Even though my background is predominately in construction I had the opportunity in Design Management. I added invaluable construction perspective into design to help provide cost effective and innovative solutions for the client. A far cry from my project engineering days on site pouring concrete and lifting beams! The rest of the team provided value across various teams and disciplines, namely:

  • Kumbi was the Construction Manager for  the northern Secondary Package through Watsonia and up to the M80 Western Ring Road
  • Bernard was the Design Manager for three of the Secondary Packages covering the Eastern Freeway.
  • Charles, Loai, Michael and Nathan assisted in construction management, constructability advice and tender returnable write up.
  • Marcos managed and looked at impacts to Utilities across the primary package
  • Nick as IT Support for SPARK.

As with many projects there were many challenges, however with NELP, it felt amplified! This is due to the sheer scale of the project, it’s complexities, and its different requirements, interfaces and constraints between the different disciplines within the bid. The large quantity of internal and external stakeholders with different backgrounds, perspective, experiences and expectations towards the project. In spite of being one of the key factors for creating an amazing work experience, the cultural differences also came with its own intricacies. We overcame those hurdles with our great capacity of communicating clearly with different parties, navigating across all levels. With our previous experience on similar projects of similar sizes, and our deep understanding of the local market, its requirements and expectations.

NELP was such a large tender, we had the opportunity to be of service in a wide range of areas across the tender. One thing I took away from my experience at NELP was not to assume that everyone has the same understanding and perspective as you. We have certain standards in which construction sites are run in Victoria, and not all our international team members would be aware of them. Nothing could or should be assumed to be of common knowledge. Instead, things had to be as clearly communicated as possible to make sure the information was levelled across the board. I look forward to our future opportunities to work on project such as this in the future. The diverse nature of this tender was exhilarating.