The NSW government has pledged to build Australia’s longest road tunnel in the Blue Mountains.
Most important points:
- The NSW government has chosen to build one long tunnel between Katoomba and Lithgow, rather than two smaller ones.
- The 11-kilometer road tunnel will be the longest in Australia
- The section on the Great Western Highway is currently steep, windy and notorious for traffic jams
A seven-mile tunnel from Blackheath to Little Hartley has been confirmed as the preferred option in the Great Western Highway upgrades to improve mountain travel.
The highway is one of only two roads through the Blue Mountains connecting the central west to the state capital, and communities in the western areas have long requested an upgrade.
The state government had previously pledged to build two smaller tunnels across known bottlenecks at Blackheath and Mount Victoria, but began exploring the possibility of a longer tunnel last year.
The tunnel will be part of the now $8 billion Great Western Highway upgrade that will duplicate the 34km road from Lithgow to Katoomba with dual carriageways.
Deputy Prime Minister Paul Toole said the tunnel and upgrades would take 30 minutes of travel time “on a good day”.
“This is going to make a huge difference for people traveling to and from the Central West and also through the mountains,” he said.
The tunnel goes 100 meters under Mount Victoria and 30 meters under Blackheath.
“It’s exciting to know that this project is going to become a reality… this project has been put in the too-hard basket for a long time,” said Mr Toole.
Construction of the road will start in early 2023 and work on the tunnel section will start at the end of 2024 and will be operational in 2027/28.
The project has raised serious concerns about the Aboriginal heritage and platypus populations in the Lithgow region.