Early works contract awarded for NSW Great Western Hwy Upgrade Program

Monica Gameng   |   September 17, 2022
Great Western Highway (cr: Transport for NSW)

Construction on the approximately $4.5 billion Great Western Highway Upgrade Program in New South Wales is a step closer to commencing with the contract for early works awarded to Ausconnex. 

Ausconnex will carry out early works at Cox River Road, which is part of the West Section of the project between Little Hartley and Lithgow. 

The first phase of the West Section will deliver a new-look interchange at Cox River Road along with a road bridge over the upgraded highway, transforming how people travel in and around the western base of the Blue Mountains. 

“The Great Western Highway upgrade is a transformative project that will deliver safer and more efficient journeys for the thousands of people who travel through the mountains every day. 

“A better road over the mountains has been talked about for years – and we’re making it a reality with the project on track to see shovels in the ground early next year. 

“The NSW Government is working closely with the local community on the final design to deliver a better, safer highway for all users,” Deputy Premier Paul Toole said. 

kfbtigTo Mount Victoria (source: Great Western Highway Upgrade Program - West)

Works at Cox River Road will begin later this month and it will include upgrading about 2.4 kilometres of the existing highway at Little Hartley, creating a four-lane divided carriageway. 

A new interchange is also going to be built to carry local traffic over the new highway. Works on the interchange will include realigning parts of the existing highway to provide a local service road and delivering upgrades to the intersections with Browns Gap Road and Baaners Lane. 

Early works to relocate utility assets are due to begin soon. 

“The upgrade will undoubtedly make a tangible difference to daily life for the thousands of people living in and travelling through the Blue Mountains on the highway. 

“I’m excited that we have awarded the early works contract for this section and we will soon be a step closer to our first sod turn on this game changing project. 

“As part of early works around four kilometres of overhead power lines and underground assets will be moved so we can build the new highway,” Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Sam Farraway said. 

In July of this year, Registrations of Interest for major works on the East and West sections of the Great Western Highway upgrade was announced and the contracts are now out to tender. The contract for the West Section is anticipated to be awarded in late 2022 and works to begin in early 2023. 

The Great Western Highway Upgrade Program is divided into three sections, namely East Section (from Katoomba to Blackheath), Central Section (from Blackheath to Little Hartley) and West Section (from Little Hartley to Lithgow). 

0otu98Explorers Road overpass (source: Great Western Highway Upgrade Program - East)

The East Section is further divided into two sections: 

  • Katoomba to Medlow Bath section will include: 
    • Widening around 3.5 kilometres of the Great Western Highway between Rowan Lane in Katoomba and Bellevue Crescent in Medlow Bath to provide two lanes in each direction 
    • Connections to the Medlow Bath Upgrade 
    • New concrete twin bridges (about 400 metres long) over the valley from Pulpit Hill near Explorers Road 
    • Upgraded intersections at Nellies Glen Road, Explorers Road and Foy Avenue 
    • Improved visitor parking at the Pulpit Hill heritage interpretation area 
    • A new truck stopping area to the west of Explorers Road 
    • Upgrade of the Great Blue Mountains Trail to maintain active transport connections between Katoomba and Medlow Bath 
    • Providing new formalised bus stops on the highway at Nellies Glen Road (westbound), Explorers Road (eastbound) and Foy Avenue 
    • Upgraded and new drainage infrastructure and water quality controls 
  • Medlow Bath to Blackheath section will include: 
    • Widening around 1.8 kilometres of the Great Western Highway between the existing rail over bridge in Medlow Bath to about 200 metres east of Tennyson Road in Blackheath to provide two lanes in each direction 
    • Connections to the existing highway, providing two lanes in each direction 
    • Road connection ‘stubs’ for the future Great Western Highway tunnel bypass 
    • Relocation of the electrical sectioning hut in the rail corridor from next to the highway opposite Coachhouse Lane, on to Station Street 
    • Extension of the Great Blue Mountains Trail alongside the National Park and Great Western Highway between Medlow Bath and Blackheath 
    • A new truck stopping area about one kilometre west of Medlow Bath 
    • Upgraded and new drainage infrastructure and water quality controls 
  • Investigating opportunities to extend utility relocations and access trails to connect to Blackheath 

The Central Section, on the other hand, will include: 

  • Twin tunnels, one eastbound and one westbound, around 11 kilometres long, generally to the south of the existing Great Western Highway and Mount Victoria 
  • Two lanes of traffic flow in each tunnel, to separate traffic and increase safety 
  • Road shoulders to allow vehicles to stop safely without interrupting traffic flow 
  • A possible tunnel depth of up to 200 metres below ground at the deepest point to the south of Mount Victoria 
  • Tunnel operation facilities including ventilation systems, drainage management, signage, lighting, and emergency evacuation systems 

Features of the twin tunnels are still subject to further development design, Environmental Impact Statement and detailed design. 

Lastly, the West Section of the Great Western Highway Upgrade Program will include: 

  • Upgrading of around 14 kilometres of the Great Western Highway between Little Hartley and Lithgow to a safer four lane divided highway 
  • Provision of service roads for local traffic 
  • Safer, controlled access onto the highway 
  • Provision of two heavy/light vehicle rest areas 
  • New bridges to allow safer, separated intersections for local traffic 
  • Upgrade of the existing bridge of River Lett 
  • Provision of a westbound climbing (third) lane on River Lett Hill 

The overall program of works is estimated to generate up to 3,900 jobs during its construction phase. 

Source: Transport for NSW (1, 2); NSW Government – Media Releases; Inside Construction; Roads & Infrastructure Australia 

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Monica Gameng
As Felix's Marketing Assistant since 2015, Monica is responsible for researching and sharing new and progressing projects within the construction and mining sectors in Australia. It's no surprise that Monica has her finger on the pulse of Australian major projects given she has produced more than 1,000 posts. She truly is an industry expert.
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