Legacy Way

Coordinates: 27°27′47.89″S 152°59′54.17″E / 27.4633028°S 152.9983806°E / -27.4633028; 152.9983806
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Legacy Way
Northern Link Tunnel
Eastern Portal of Legacy Way (westbound)
LocationToowongKelvin Grove, Brisbane, Queensland
Coordinates27°27′47.89″S 152°59′54.17″E / 27.4633028°S 152.9983806°E / -27.4633028; 152.9983806
Route M5
Start Western Freeway, Toowong, Brisbane
End Inner City Bypass, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane
Work begunApril 2011
ConstructedTranscity – $1.5 billion
Opened25 June 2015
OwnerBrisbane City Council
Toll$6.60 (car) (2024)
Vehicles per day20,000 (2016)[1]
Length4.6 km (2.9 mi)
No. of lanes4 total in 2 parallel tubes
Operating speed80 km/h (50 mph)

The M5 Legacy Way (formerly Northern Link Tunnel) is a 4.6 kilometres (2.9 mi) long tunnel linking the Western Freeway at Toowong and the Inner City Bypass at Kelvin Grove, Brisbane. The project consisted of two bored tunnels carrying two motorway grade lanes of traffic in each direction. It opened on 25 June 2015 and is the fourth of five components of Brisbane City Council's TransApex Project. The tunnels will be tolled for approximately 45 years.[2][3][4]

The Environmental Impact Statement was released for public comment in September 2008 and approved in April 2010. Construction commenced in April 2011 with original plans to open the tunnel to traffic in late 2014. It carries approximately 20,000 vehicles a day[1] and has reduced travel time between the Centenary Bridge and the Inner City Bypass by 71%.[3]

The project was funded through council borrowings, together with a state and federal government contribution.

Tender process[edit]

Three consortia were shortlisted and invited to submit proposals in December 2009:[5]

The tenders for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of the tunnels for up to 20 years[6] were submitted on 12 May 2010,[7] however on 5 July the Brisbane City Council announced that the Leightons Baulderstone Razel joint venture bid would not be considered.

On 20 September 2010, Lord Mayor Campbell Newman announced that the winner of the tender process was Transcity,[8] a joint venture between Acciona,[9] BMD Constructions[10] and tunnelling specialist Ghella.[11]

Name change[edit]

In November 2010 the Brisbane City Council revealed that the Northern Link would be named Legacy Way in honour of the men and women serving in the Australian Defence Force. One cent of every toll (equating to $5.5 million over the lifetime of the road) will go to Legacy Australia, an Australian volunteer organisation caring for the families of deceased and incapacitated military veterans.[12][13]

Tunnel design[edit]

Low point sump, about 40 metres underneath Elizabeth Street, Paddington


Legacy Way consists of two 4.6 km (2.9 mi) long parallel tunnels that pass from the Western Freeway to Kelvin Grove going through Toowong, Auchenflower, Milton, Paddington, Red Hill and Kelvin Grove. Some design features include 36 underground cross passages, spaced every 120 m, a longitudinal ventilation system, fire protection and safety management systems and free-flow tolling.[14]


The entrance of Legacy Way, inauguration day

In April 2012 Brisbane City Council Lord Mayor Graham Quirk was quoted as stating that the former Labor state government had failed to support during the design phase of the project a busway connection linking Legacy Way's eastern end with the Northern Busway. Despite a change in state government, the minister responsible for the Department of Transport & Main Roads, Scott Emerson, could not justify a busway connection at a cost of $30 million. Although the inclusion of a busway connection represented only 0.25% of the project's overall cost, the LNP state government were at the time focused on reducing the Queensland government debt.[15]

In November 2013 The Queensland Minister for Transport & Main Roads announced a plan to connect buses from the Underground Bus and Train Tunnel project with Legacy Way.[16]

In April 2014 Queensland Premier Campbell Newman confirmed a plan to shorten the travel time of Transport for Brisbane's western suburbs bus routes by connecting Legacy Way with the Bus and Train (BaT) Tunnel project. By 2020 re-routed bus services will save 15 minutes per journey. Design options involving ramps or bridges linking both tunnels were being considered.[17]


There are two ventilation shafts. The western shaft is located in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens, Mount Coot-tha with the ventilation station underground. The eastern shaft is located in Victoria Park (which now includes a former golf course) near the Inner City Bypass, Kelvin Grove, and its ventilation station is partially built into an existing hill.[18]


Legacy Way tunnel western entrance construction in November 2011

Tunnel boring[edit]

Two Herrenknecht Double Shield tunnel boring machines (TBMs) bored from the Mount Coot-tha roundabout, Toowong, toward the Inner City Bypass, Kelvin Grove. The TBMs were named Annabell and Joyce, as a tribute to Legacy Australia. Annabell is named after Annabell MacKinney, the daughter of the late Lance Corporal Jared MacKinney who was killed in action in the war in Afghanistan in 2010. Joyce is named after Joyce Tweddell, a nurse during World War II who showed immense courage after being held as a prisoner of war in Sumatra for 3 years before returning home and going on to become Queensland's chief radiographer at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital.[19]


Joyce TBM concluded the boring of the eastbound tunnel on 24 April 2013, taking 7 months to reach breakthrough.[20] Annabell TBM concluded boring of the westbound tunnel on 13 June 2013, taking 10 months to reach breakthrough.[21] Both TBMs bored in the same direction.

TBM Surface Location
Toowong Auchenflower Paddington
Mount Coot-Tha Rd Frederick St Thorpe St Sleath St Siemon St Gregory St Munro St Birdwood Tce Owen Ln Hume St Agnes St Payne St Annie St Hope St Thomas St Renie St Howard St Bass St Agars St Baroona Rd Elizabeth St Beck St
Annabell September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012
Joyce October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February/March 2013
TBM Surface Location
Paddington Red Hill Kelvin Grove
Fernberg Rd Guthrie St Royal St Ross St Ranley Grove Ranley Tce Given Tce Great George St Bowler St Charlotte St Martha St Plunkett St Charteris St Upper Cairns Tce Cambridge St Musgrave Rd Lower Clifton Tce Kelvin Grove Rd Normanby Tce Victoria Park Rd
Annabell January 2013 February 2013 March/April/May/June 2013
Joyce February/March 2013 April 2013



Spoil created from the excavation earthworks is being deposited at the Mount Coot-tha Quarry. An 870 m long conveyor tunnel transports excavated material from the western tunnel entrance to the quarry.[22][23]

Spoil Handling
Criterion Project Impact
Total spoil
(bank m3)
Spoil via conveyor to Mount Coot-Tha Quarry
(bank m3)
Disposal site
(not disposed of in Mount Coot-Tha Quarry)
Rudd Street, Oxley (or other location as approved)
Haulage route M5, onto M7, onto Ipswich Road, Darra, onto Douglas Street, Oxley,
then Rudd Street, Oxley (or other location as approved).
Spoil by truck
(bank m3)
Haulage hours Standard construction hours: 6:30am to 6:30pm Monday to Saturday.
TBM spoil (in case conveyor is out of operation): 6:30am Monday to 6.30pm Saturday.
Average haulage per hour
(in each direction)
Over 14 months:
5 for excess TBM spoil;
35 for TBM spoil when conveyor is out of operation.

Source (p.119)

Tunnel operator[edit]

On 16 July 2013 it was reported that Queensland Motorways had acquired a 50-year lease to toll, operate and maintain Legacy Way from Brisbane City Council. The following July, Queensland Motorways was acquired by Transurban.[24]

The majority of the toll revenue will go to Transurban with Brisbane City Council expecting to receive between $1.08 billion and $1.58 billion by 2020.[25]

On 18 September 2013 an informal review conducted by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission concluded that the acquisition would not result in a substantial lessening of competition in any of the relevant markets.[26]


The tunnel is part of the Linkt network (formerly go via), and the toll is collected as vehicles pass under a gantry. The tolls cost for cars at the time of opening in June 2015 is $3.00.[27]

Toll prices as of 1 January 2024[28]
Toll road Class 1 (Motorcycles) Class 2 (Cars) Class 3 (Light Commercial Vehicles) Class 4 (Heavy Commercial Vehicles) Toll increase Toll concessionaire[29] Expiry of toll concession[30][31]

Legacy Way $3.30 $6.60 $9.90 $19.79[a] Annually on 1 July, by CPI Transurban Queensland[b]
(62.5% owned by Transurban)
June 2065

  1. ^ Class 4 price shown is the peak hour price (5am–8pm daily). Class 4 off-peak price is $17.48.
  2. ^ Under a long-term concession agreement with the Brisbane City Council

Tunnel walk-through event[edit]

A family-friendly walk through Legacy Way before it opened to traffic took place on 31 May 2015, when more than 20,000 people, including many young children, passed through the tunnel. The event was only accessible by public transport, with free bus pick-up and drop-off points located throughout the city and multiple bus stops located inside the tunnel.[32]


  1. ^ a b Atfield, Cameron (19 January 2016). "Legacy Way traffic up 4 per cent as new buses announced". Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 6 August 2016.
  2. ^ Northern Link Initial Advice Statement, Brisbane City Council, September 2007
  3. ^ a b DCameron Atfield (25 August 2015). "Legacy Way cuts travel time on Milton Road: report". Brisbane Times. Archived from the original on 26 August 2015. Retrieved 22 September 2015.
  4. ^ Tunnelling, Legacy Way, Transcity official website Archived 10 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine (accessed 24 April 2013)
  5. ^ Moore, Tony (7 December 2009). "Firms shortlisted for Northern Link tunnel". Brisbane Times. Archived from the original on 12 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  6. ^ "Expressions of Interest". Brisbane City Council. 2 November 2009. Archived from the original on 13 October 2009. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
  7. ^ "Northern Link toll modelled on Clem7". Ursula Heger. 13 May 2010. Archived from the original on 2 February 2011. Retrieved 17 May 2010.
  8. ^ "Toll on the $1.5bn Northern Link project fixed at $3 for first year". Ursula Heger. 20 September 2010. Archived from the original on 9 June 2012. Retrieved 30 September 2010.
  9. ^ Legacy Way, ACCIONA Australia Archived 7 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine(accessed 24 August 2013)
  10. ^ BMD Constructions About Archived 29 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine (accessed 24 August 2013)
  11. ^ Who Are We, Company Profile, Ghella Archived 10 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine(accessed 24 August 2013)
  12. ^ "Part of road tunnel toll going to Legacy". ABC News. 10 November 2010. Archived from the original on 26 November 2010. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
  13. ^ About Legacy Archived 4 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine (accessed 17 December 2012)
  14. ^ The Project, Trancity Archived 18 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine (accessed 20 December 2012)
  15. ^ Longer trips for bus commuters after Legacy Way bus link goes begging, Westside News, Quest Community Newspapers, 3 April 2012 Archived 11 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine (accessed 20 December 2012)
  16. ^ Underground’s Legacy connection, Minister for Transport and Main Roads, Scott Emerson 19 November 2013 Archived 9 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine (accessed 9 April 2014)
  17. ^ Legacy Way and BaT Tunnel to be Linked, Brisbane Times, 3 April 2014 Archived 4 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine (accessed 9 April 2014)
  18. ^ "Legacy Way FAQs" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 April 2013. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  19. ^ Tunnel boring machines, Legacy, Transcity official website Archived 10 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine (accessed 24 April 2013)
  20. ^ Feeney, Katherine (23 April 2013). "Legacy Way boring machine set to break through". Brisbane Times. Archived from the original on 12 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  21. ^ Moore, Tony (13 June 2013). "Annabell breaks on through to the other side". Brisbane Times. Archived from the original on 12 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  22. ^ "Construction commencement of spoil conveyor tunnel, Toowong". Transcity. 28 September 2011. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 29 September 2011.
  23. ^ Spoil Conveyor Tunnel, TransityJV, YouTube video, 2 December 2012 Archived 24 June 2016 at the Wayback Machine (accessed 20 December 2012)
  24. ^ "About - Legacy Way". Archived from the original on 5 May 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  25. ^ Council-Qld Motorways Deal Good Value, The North West Star, 16 July 2013 Archived 13 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine (accessed 10 April 2014)
  26. ^ Queensland Motorways Holding Pty Limited (QMH) – proposed acquisition of tollroad assets from the Brisbane City Council, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, Reference 51943, 18 September 2013 Archived 13 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine (accessed 10 April 2014)
  27. ^ "Toll information". goVia Legacy Way. Queensland Motorways. 31 May 2015. Archived from the original on 4 May 2015. Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  28. ^ "Toll pricing". Linkt. Retrieved 9 January 2024.
  29. ^ "Toll roads". Department of Transport and Main Roads. 10 April 2016. Retrieved 15 October 2021.
  30. ^ "Brisbane". Transurban. Retrieved 15 October 2021.
  31. ^ "Transurban Queensland Euro Medium Term Note Programme Update" (PDF). 31 October 2016. p. 9. Retrieved 18 October 2021.
  32. ^ "Lord Mayor announces Legacy Way walk-through event". Lord Mayor of Brisbane Graham Quirk. Archived from the original on 27 May 2015. Retrieved 27 May 2015.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]