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City West Water

Spencer St Sewer Upgrade

We have an exciting new project starting in Melbourne's CBD.

What work are we undertaking?

Historical image of Spencer st

The Spencer Street Sewer Upgrade will see the installation of a second sewer pipe along Spencer Street to complement the existing sewer main and build the capacity of the overall sewer network to meet the expected growth in Melbourne’s CBD into the future.

The new sewer main will be 700 metres long and run under Spencer Street between Little Lonsdale Street to Flinders Lane.

The current sewer in Spencer Street is over 100 years old and is nearly at capacity.

spencer st as it looks today

Why this upgrade needs to be completed?

Victoria in Future (2015) forecasts growth of approximately 60,000 new apartments in Melbourne’s CBD over the next 35 years. This includes approximately 14,000 apartments in the Spencer Street area.

To make sure we can continue to deliver a safe and reliable sewerage service to people living and working in the CBD, it is essential that we increase the capacity of the sewer network to support this growth.

On this page you will find

Where are we up to?

The Tunnel Boring Machine started boring at Lonsdale Street in February 2018. On Saturday 26 May at 9am, some three months later it broke through into the Flinders Lane retrieval site. The Tunnel Boring Machine worked under Spencer Street for the three months at approximately 10 metres underground. On average it ran for 20 hours a day, seven days a week, laying 18 metres of new sewer pipe each day.

The Tunnel Boring Machine has now finished its work and been removed from the Flinders Lane retrieval shaft. Works are now continuing to connect the new sewer line to the existing sewer at the Flinders Lane site.

Boring machine


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Lonsdale Street and Spencer Street

flinders lane and bourke street maps

In November 2017 we built a launch shaft for the Tunnel Boring Machine to start its tunnelling under Spencer Street at the corner of Lonsdale Street.

This site continues to be used to install a second sewer pipe towards Little Lonsdale Street.

Traffic conditions at Lonsdale Street

Currently one westbound lane and two eastbound lanes on Lonsdale Street are closed to traffic, reducing the traffic to a single lane in both directions.

Traffic management is in place during the works to maintain traffic flow and ensure the safety of work crews, motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

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Bourke Street and Spencer Street

bourke street map

On Wednesday 8 August a new work site was set up at the corner of Bourke Street and Spencer Street (in front of the Premier Tower site) for the construction of a maintenance shaft into the new sewer.

Traffic conditions at Bourke Street

One southbound lane remains open with the left turn from Bourke Street on to Spencer Street closed.

Traffic management is in place during the works to maintain traffic flow and ensure the safety of work crews, motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

What to be aware of:

  • The footpath on the east side of Spencer Street is closed between Bourke Street and Little Collins Street.
  • There is no left turn from Bourke Street into Spencer Street.
  • These works are expected to be complete by late November.
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Flinders Lane and Spencer Street

From February 2018 to May 2018 we built a retrieval shaft on the corner of Spencer Street and Flinders Lane for the Tunnel Boring Machine to be removed from. In May the Tunnel Boring Machine was removed. We are currently building concrete walls and structure in the retrieval shaft and installing a manhole.

Traffic conditions at Flinders Lane

On Wednesday 8 August one of the two southbound lanes (the middle lane closest to the trams) was reopened to traffic. These conditions will remain in place until September 2018. The hotel bus zones in Flinders Lane and Spencer Street have been relocated to Collins Street, west of Spencer Street.

What to be aware of:

  • Access to car parks and delivery bays will remain open at all times (see below alternative routes for more information).
  • Large vehicles can access Flinders Lane via King Street and exit at Downie Street.
  • The taxi zone in Flinders Lane has been relocated approximately 80 metres further east along Flinders Lane.
  • There will be no changes or interruptions to tram services along Spencer Street.
  • All footpaths will remain open. For pedestrian safety the street crossing will be moved further along Flinders Lane. Please follow the detour directions.
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Bus zone changes

From 8 August - Spencer Street, one southbound lane will be reopened at Flinders Lane.

local bus zones

What we are doing

  • The detours to Collins Street will be removed and southbound traffic flow on Spencer Street will be reinstated.
  • From 8 August 2018, the bus zones in Spencer Street, south of Collins Street will be reinstated.
  • The bus zone in Flinders Lane will remain unavailable until all the works are completed in Flinders Lane.

Throughout the duration of the works

  • At no time during works can buses, coaches or towing vehicles turn left into Flinders Lane from Spencer Street.
  • The left hand turn from Spencer Street into Flinders Lane can only be made by cars and small delivery vehicles.
  • All large vehicles will need to access Flinders Lane via King Street.
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Access into Southern Cross Car Park

What to be aware of: southern cross carpark entry

  • The intersection of Spencer Street and Lonsdale Street has been changed.
  • One lane southbound on Spencer Street has been removed.
  • There is no right hand turn into the Southern Cross Car Park.
  • Entry to the car park is straight ahead from Lonsdale Street, or left hand turn from Spencer Street.
  • Northbound traffic on Spencer Street will not be affected during the works.
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Crawling Under Spencer Street

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Tilly's journey #underspencer

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Lonsdale st time lapse

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Traffic management

For the safety of pedestrians and workers, we will be closing sections of Spencer Street as works are undertaken. Access to residential and business properties as well as underground carparks will be maintained. On-site traffic coordinators will be on hand to assist. 

Due to the closure of one southbound lane the traffic conditions will be altered, including at intersections that meet with Spencer Street. In some instances turning lanes will be modified or restricted.

Yes, trams will continue to operate as usual during the works. No tram routes or tram stops are expected to be affected by the works.

Yes, traffic flows will be impacted. There will be ample signage advising motorists and cyclists of the works before they start, as well as detour signage.

One lane southbound on Spencer Street will be closed to traffic. We will make every effort to provide advanced warning of road closures and detour routes.

In addition to traffic radio reports (on the Australian Traffic Network), regular traffic bulletins will be made available on this page, and via our Facebook page and twitter @citywestwater feeds.

Traffic detours will be in place for the duration of the project. Signage will advise motorists of traffic detours. In addition, we will be making a traffic bulletin prior to and throughout the duration of the works.

Other frequently asked questions

The project is costing approximately $24 million, which is part of our sewer program and not subject to additional funding requirements. There will not be an additional charge to customers for the works being undertaken in Spencer Street.

The sewer was constructed well over 100 years ago and is nearly at capacity. These works will upgrade this essential infrastructure to ensure we meet community needs now, and for the significant expected growth in the future.

We will be upgrading over 700 metres of sewer in Spencer Street. The works involve the installation of another sewer alongside the existing sewer main.

We will be duplicating the existing sewer to provide additional sewerage capacity. This will involve the installation of a 1.4 metre diameter pipeline by boring a tunnel 10- 11 meters underground. The tunnel boring method will minimise the above ground impacts and reduce the need to dig an open trench along Spencer Street.

Minor works will begin in August, with major works scheduled to begin in October 2017. The works will take place on Spencer Street from Little Lonsdale Street to Flinders Lanes (refer to map).

Works are expected to take 12 months to complete. To minimise disruption to traffic, residents, and those working and visiting in the area, the majority of the works will be done underground to minimise surface disruption. Some surface works will still be required. Work sites and traffic alterations will be established along the length of the works and remain in place for the duration of the project.

This sewer duplication project will take approximately 12 months to complete. We anticipate completing the works towards the end of 2018.

We are not planning to interrupt the supply of water or sewer in Spencer Street or surrounding areas while works are taking place.

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