Australia's longest road tunnel locked in for Blue Mountains
The NSW Government today confirmed the 11-kilometre toll-free tunnel from Blackheath to Little Hartley as the preferred option following an in-depth feasibility analysis and extensive investigation process.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the proposed central tunnel would be Australia’s longest road tunnel.
“This is a history-making legacy project that will deliver safer and more efficient journeys for locals, tourists and freight travelling between the Central West and the East Coast,” Mr Toole said.
“The tunnel will reduce congestion and improve safety for local residents, tourists and freight operators.
“In May last year, we started investigating plans to join the two to create the longest road tunnel in the entire country – and today, we’re locking that plan in as the preferred option.
“This is a complex, ambitious plan but we’re on track for shovels to hit the ground on the east and west stages of the upgrade early next year because we’re getting on with the job of building a safer, stronger road network across all parts of the state.
“The Blackheath to Little Hartley tunnel design features dual carriageways for both eastbound and westbound motorists in separate twin tunnels and a gentler gradient to cut travel times and improve freight efficiencies.”
Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said the Blue Mountains tunnel would deliver a raft of benefits that would transform the connection between Sydney and western NSW.
“This tunnel project, as part of the major upgrade of the Great Western Highway between Lithgow and Katoomba, will help improve the economic development, productivity and accessibility in and through the Blue Mountains, Central West and Orana regions,” Mr Farraway said.
“It will improve the resilience of the state’s major road corridor across the Blue Mountains during traffic incidents and natural disasters and will be built to accommodate future population growth west of the Blue Mountains.
“The straighter alignment will improve road safety through the mountains and the tunnel will help unlock the potential of western NSW, for the benefit of all residents and businesses in this important part of the state.
“Once the full upgrade to the Great Western Highway is complete, it is predicted to save motorists up to 30 minutes between Katoomba and Lithgow during busy periods.
It’s time to make the Western Highway Great again and that is exactly what this upgrade will do.”
Transport for NSW will continue its program of consultation with Blue Mountains and Central West communities and the Wiradjuri, Dharug and Gundungurra communities through a series of online and face-to-face information sessions about the tunnel project in coming weeks.
Face-to-face information sessions for everyone in the community will be held at the Hartley Community Hall (Wednesday 18 May, 6pm-8pm), Katoomba Cultural Centre (Wednesday 25 May, 4:30pm - 8pm) and Blackheath Neighbourhood Centre (Saturday 4 June, 10am - 12pm).
Online sessions will be held on Monday 23 May and Thursday 9 June at 6:30pm.
Participants can register for all sessions through the online web portal at nswroads.work/gwheastconsult.
These early information sessions precede the formal consultation which will come later in 2022 when the Environmental Impact Assessment for the Blackheath to Little Hartley tunnel goes on exhibition.
At that time the community will have further opportunity to explore the design, consider the benefits and impacts of the proposal and make formals submissions which will be responded to in a submissions report.