Australia’s deepest road tunnel, NorthConnex, officially opened to motorists last weekend.
Sydneysiders are now able to bypass 21 sets of traffic lights between the M1 and M2 motorways, completing the long-awaited ‘missing link’ in the National Highway network.
The twin nine-kilometre tunnels between the M1 at Wahroonga and M2 at West Pennant Hills now provide smoother and faster journeys along Pennant Hills Road and also mean bypassing 40 sets of lights if using the Pacific Highway as a route to the CBD.
The $3 billion mega-project is expected to save people up to 15 minutes in their morning and evening commutes – boosting productivity and busting congestion.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said NorthConnex had delivered thousands of jobs to support hard-working families and now motorists would benefit for generations to come.
“NorthConnex is a game-changing piece of infrastructure that will allow drivers to travel between Newcastle and Melbourne without stopping at a traffic light, and a complete bypass of suburban Sydney,” the Prime Minister said.
“This is one of the most significant and eagerly anticipated road infrastructure projects ever delivered in Australia.”
Premier of New South Wales (NSW), Gladys Berejiklian said the project has been a major driver of employment, creating around 8,700 jobs for the state.
“The project is forecast to inject around $4 billion into the economy,” she said. “Around 300 businesses from the Western Sydney area and another 50 from the Central Coast have also contributed to the project, highlighting the opportunities this project has created for local suppliers and contractors.”
Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure, Alan Tudge, detailed that NorthConnex will strip up to 5,000 trucks a day off the notorious Pennant Hills Road, which is one of the most congested roads in NSW.
“The safety benefits for so many families, getting people home safely at the end of each day, is immeasurable,” he said.
NSW Minister for Transport and Roads, Andrew Constance, said NorthConnex reaches depths of up to 90 metres, making it Australia’s deepest road tunnel.
He noted that in an Australian-first, innovative lighting displays will help keep drivers alert, with stunning starscapes, trees and native birds highlighting the transition from the rural environment of the north to the urban environment of the city.
“NorthConnex will see air quality improve around Pennant Hills Road, safer routes for pedestrians and cyclists, and a significant reduction in traffic noise – all issues local residents desperately wanted addressed,” Mr Constance said.
NorthConnex is a $3 billion project which includes $577.3 million from the NSW Government, $412.3 million from the Australian Government, and $2 billion from Transurban and its private sector partners.
NorthConnex tolls are in line with the M2, at $7.99 for cars and $23.97 for heavy vehicles. Toll Relief will apply. Drivers who spend an average of $26 a week over a year are entitled to free registration. Drivers who spend an average of $16 a week over a year are entitled to half-price registration.