The Victorian government is on track to sign contracts with its preferred bidder of the East West Link in October, only weeks from the state election.
The East West Connect consortium has been named the preferred bidder to build the project’s first stage, a six-kilometre eastern section joining the Eastern Freeway with CityLink.
The consortium, comprising Lend Lease, Capella Capital, Acciona and Bouygues, will now enter into exclusive negotiations with the government, and contracts will be signed in October, weeks from the November 29 poll.
“The Victorian government will now enter into exclusive negotiations with East West Connect to deliver what is one of the world’s largest infrastructure projects currently out to tender,” Treasurer Michael O’Brien said on Tuesday.
Mr O’Brien said it was still a “live” tender and there were contractual issues and planning decisions to resolve.
He defended signing contracts before the election, saying infrastructure was needed to keep pace with population growth.
But Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews accused Premier Denis Napthine of being too afraid to take the project to the polls.
“He doesn’t think Victorians are good enough or smart enough or entitled to make a choice,” he said.
“If Labor wins the election, I want to invest every dollar of that money in better local projects, better local roads.”
Building for stage one is expected to begin this year, creating 3200 jobs.
Mr O’Brien said the jointly funded federal and state project was expected to be delivered on time and under the stage one $6 billion-$8 billion budget.
More information about the project would be released when it was “commercially safe”, he said.