New 11km road tunnel proposed for NSW Great Western Highway Upgrade

Monica Gameng   |   May 9, 2021
Great Western Highway Upgrade - Katoomba to Lithgow (cr: Transport for NSW)

An 11-kilometre tunnel is being proposed to be the central component of the $2.5 billion Great Western Highway between Katoomba and Lithgow in New South Wales. 

If approved, it will form the longest road tunnel in Australia and it will improve the connection between the Central West and the East Coast by linking to the tunnels already determined at Blackheath and Mount Victoria. 

“This is an immensely complex and ambitious plan, but we're working hard to make it happen because we know what a difference it will make to the lives of commuters, to regional businesses who need access to Sydney and vice versa, to freight companies, to families visiting relatives and to holiday makers. 

“The NSW Government is committed to building a safer and stronger regional NSW and this corridor will enhance the state, significantly cutting travel times between the city and the bush,” Deputy Premier John Barilaro said. 

The Katoomba to Lithgow section will be completing the 130-kilometre upgrade of the Great Western Highway. 

The proposed 11-kilometre tunnel that connects to the future tunnels at Blackheath and Mount Victoria will help provide a safer and more reliable route through the Blue Mountains. This proposed solution will also minimise disruption for local residents and businesses during the construction phase. 

“The NSW Government knows how important this upgrade is to the people who use the Great Western Highway every day and in improving connections between Sydney and the Central West, which is why we committed $2.5 billion to deliver a once-in-a-generation upgrade to this key corridor. 

“We're now investigating connecting those two proposed tunnels into one longer tunnel. This would be a history-making project, delivering Australia's longest road tunnel and allow motorists to avoid all the current pinch points from Blackheath in the east to Little Hartley on the western side of Victoria Pass,” Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said. 

Road-tunnel-Katoomba-and-Lithgow-1168x656Artist impression (source: Liberal New South Wales)

Minister Toole added that the eastern entry of the tunnel is going to be located on the outskirts of Blackheath and built in a section of National Park land to the south of Evans Lookout Road, minimising impacts on local homes. 

“At the Western end, the portal location in Little Hartley has been modified to improve safety and reduce property impacts in the valley,” Minister Toole said. 

Transport for NSW is currently in talks with National Parks regarding the impacts of the upgrade to the land adjacent the proposed tunnel portals, reassuring the portals will not impact the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. 

“This is an immensely challenging project but, once complete, it will deliver dual carriageways in both directions for over 100 kilometres. 

“Should our investigations into a long tunnel determine that it isn't viable, the community can be assured that we would proceed with a tunnel at Blackheath and a tunnel at Mount Victoria,” Minister Toole said. 

Construction on the Great Western Highway Upgrade is anticipated to commence in 2022 at Medlow Bath and the entire project is going to be completed progressively over the next 8 to 10 years. 

Local communities will help shape the project design as it progresses towards construction. 

“Later this year, Transport for NSW will consult with the community on the entire upgrade, including the proposed Blackheath to Little Hartley Tunnel. 

“Between now and then, residents will see plenty of investigation work going on to make sure we have all the information we need to reduce the environmental impacts of the project,” Minister Toole said. 

Source: Transport for NSW (1, 2, 3); Liberal New South Wales 

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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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