Final bids for a AUD2.3 billion public-private partnership (PPP) toll road project to Brisbane airport in Queensland state were submitted on 14th December. The predominantly underground Airport Link is a 46-year concession contract to design, build, operate and maintain a 6.7 km motorway, 5.7 km of which in tunnel, to connect the North South Bypass Tunnel (NSBT) and Inner City Bypass at Bowen Hills with arterial roads at Kedron and Toombul. It is jointly procured by the Brisbane City Council and Queensland state government. Three teams have been chosen to submit final bids: BrisConnections, comprising Macquarie Bank, Thiess and John Holland (Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, BBVA, BOS International Australia, Depfa Bank, KBC Bank, SG and Suncorp-Metway are competing to fund this bid); NorthConnect Motorway consortium, consisting of Baulderstone Hornibrook, Abi Group, Bilfinger Berger BOT, Portuguese toll road operator Brisa Auto-Estradas de Portugal and Babcock & Brown (Bayerische Landesbank, Fortis Bank, HSBC, Royal Bank of Canada and Westpac Banking Corp are backing this bid); and Northern Motorway consortium, made up of Leighton Contractors and ABN AMRO with debt provided by ABN AMRO, Calyon, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, nabCapital and WestLB. 04/08.The Queensland government announced BrisConnections as the preferred bidder for the 6.7 km Brisbane airport link, the 3 km Windsor to Kedron section of the northern busway and a new 750 m fly-over road above the airport roundabout. BrisConnections is a fully integrated consortium of Macquarie Capital Group, Leighton subsidiaries Thiess and John Holland, Arup and Parsons Brinckerhoff. BrisConnections will design, construct, finance, own and operate the airport link project, design and construct the Windsor to Kedron section of the northern busway and design and construct a direct link between the east-west arterial and airport drive known as the airport drive connection. Visit www.leighton.com.au, www.thiess.com.au, www.johnholland.com.au, www.arup.com and www.pbworld.comThe airport link will be a fully electronic toll road stretching some 6.7 kilometres with 5.25 kilometres underground, and will have one of the lowest per kilometre tunnel tolls in Australia. It will avoid 17 sets of traffic lights and cut travel times between the city and the airport by up to 17 minutes in 2012. By 2022, the travel time savings are estimated to be up to 47 minutes. Design and construction work will be undertaken by the Thiess-John Holland joint venture under a fixed-price, fixed term contract.The northern busway is a 3 km two-lane, two way busway, including 1.5 km underground.In total the three projects will cost AUD4.8 billion, including land costs, of which the state of Queensland will only contribute AUD1.5 billion. The airport link - which is the most complex road and tunnel engineering feat in Queenslandâ€™s history - will cost over AUD3.4 billion to build. There will be partial burying of two of the airport linkâ€™s three ventilation stations, including at Clayfield, to dramatically reduce noise and visual impacts.Construction is scheduled to begin later this year, following consultation with the public and detailed design. All construction work on the three projects is due to be completed by the middle of 2012. 22/08.BrisConnections, the consortium of Thiess and John Holland, has signed a AUD90 million contract with Herrenknecht on 17th August, 2008 for two tunnel boring machines for the Airport Link road and tunnel project. They will be the two largest tunnel boring machines, at 12.48 m in diameter, to ever operate in Australia. Each cutting head features 80 off, 42.5 cm disc cutters. Each disc cutter features 80, 42.5 cm cutters. Both machines will travel 55 m below the surface at the deepest section. Each machine will install a full circle concrete lining continuously as part of the excavation process. The first TBM is expected to arrive from Germany by the end of next year and begin tunnelling around mid 2010. The second is expected to arrive in early 2010. When complete, the 6.7 km Airport Link, of which 5.25 km underground, will allow motorists to bypass 18 sets of traffic lights between Bowen hills and the Brisbane airport, cutting the trip to as little as nine minutes. Visit www.herrenknecht.com 36/08.