The NSW Government has confirmed the 11km toll-free tunnel from Blackheath to Little Hartley as the preferred option after an extensive feasibility analysis and investigation process. This Central Trunnel option will be the longest in Australia.
“This is a historic legacy project that will provide safer and more efficient journeys for residents, tourists and goods traveling between the mid-west and the east coast,” said the deputy prime minister and Minister for Regional NSW, Paul Toole.
“In May last year, we began to study plans to join the two to create the longest road tunnel in the whole country – and today we lock this plan in as the preferred option.
“This is a complex and ambitious plan, but we are on track to have the excavators hitting the ground on the east and west stages of the upgrade early next year as we tackle building a safer and stronger road network across all parts of the state.
“The design of the Blackheath to Little Hartley tunnel features dual carriageways for eastbound and westbound motorists in separate twin tunnels and a gentler grade to reduce journey times and improve freight efficiency.”
Regional Transport and Roads Minister Sam Farraway said the Blue Mountains Tunnel would deliver a range of benefits that would transform the connection between Sydney and western New South Wales.
“This tunnel project, as part of a major upgrade of the Great Western Highway between Lithgow and Katoomba, will help improve economic development, productivity and accessibility in and across the Blue Mountains, Central West and Orana,” Mr. Farraway said.
“It will improve the resilience of the state’s main highway corridor through the Blue Mountains during traffic incidents and natural disasters and will be built to accommodate future population growth west of the Blue Mountains.
“The straighter route will improve road safety through the mountains and the tunnel will help unlock the potential of western New South Wales, benefiting all residents and businesses in this important part of the state.
“Once the full upgrade of the Great Western Highway is complete, motorists are expected to save up to 30 minutes between Katoomba and Lithgow during peak periods.
It’s time to make the Western Highway Great again and that’s exactly what this upgrade will do.
Transport for NSW will continue its consultation program with the communities of the Blue Mountains and Central West and the communities of Wiradjuri, Dharug and Gundungurra through a series of online and face-to-face information sessions on the tunnel project in the coming weeks.
Face-to-face information sessions for all community members will be held at Hartley Community Hall (Wednesday, May 18, 6-8 p.m.), Katoomba Cultural Center (Wednesday, May 25, 4:30-8 p.m.) and Blackheath Neighborhood Center (Saturday June 4, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.).
The online sessions will take place on Monday May 23 and Thursday June 9 at 6:30 p.m.
Participants can register for all sessions through the online web portal at nswroads.work/gwheastconsult.
These initial briefings precede the formal consultation which will take place later in 2022 when the environmental impact assessment of the Blackheath to Little Hartley tunnel will be set out.
At that time, the community will have another opportunity to explore the design, review the benefits and impacts of the proposal, and make formal submissions which will be responded to in a submission report.