NSW locks in longest national road tunnel

A new tunnel will make Australian road history when construction begins next year

NSW locks in longest national road tunnel
The new tunnel will go under the Blue Mountains

The New South Wales government has confirmed it will be building an 11-kilometre toll-free tunnel in the Blue Mountains following an in-depth feasibility analysis and investigation process.

The new tunnel will be the longest in Australia and will run from Blackheath to Little Hartley, being chosen as a preferred option in the Great Western Highway upgrades across the Blue Mountains.

The current highway is only one of two roads spanning the Blue Mountains that connects the central west of NSW to Sydney, with communities wanting upgrades for a long time.

The tunnel will form part of an 8$ billion Great Western Highway upgrade which includes duplicating the 34 kilometres of road between Lithgow and Katoomba with dual carriageways.

Previously the NSW government committed to building two smaller tunnels across choke points at Mount Victoria and Blackheath, but last year changed its tune to begin planning a singular longer tunnel.

NSW minister for regional transport and roads Sam Farraway says the tunnel would benefit many in Sydney and western NSW.

"This tunnel projects will help improve the economic development, productivity and accessibility in and through the Blue Mountains, Central West and Orana regions," Farraway says.

"It will improve the resilience of the state’s major road corridors across the Blue Mountains during traffic incidents and the straighter alignment will improve road safety through the mountains and the tunnel to unlock the potential of western NSW."

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The NSW government predicts the tunnel will save motorists up to 30 minutes between Katoomba and Lithgow during busy periods.

While Transport for NSW will continue consulting with Blue Mountains and Central West communities about the project, deputy premier Paul Toole says the proposed tunnel will make national history.

"This is a legacy project that will deliver safer and more efficient journeys for locals, tourists and freight travelling between the Central West and East Coast," Toole says.

"In May last year we started investigating plans to join the two to create the longest road tunnel in the country – and today we’re locking that plan in as the preferred option."

The NSW government says it’s on track for shovels to hit the ground early next year to begin constructing the tunnel.

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