Another step closer to fixing Australia's worst urban road

Media Release

JB096/2015

11 September 2015

Joint release with:

Duncan Gay

NSW Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight

Pennant Hills Road has been labelled the most congested traffic corridor in Australia and today it is a step closer to being unclogged, with work starting to excavate the first NorthConnex tunnel shaft.

The shaft will provide access for workers and machinery to start construction of a nine kilometre underground road tunnel which will remove traffic from the heavily congested Pennant Hills Road.

NorthConnex will link the M1 Pacific Motorway at Wahroonga to the Hills M2 Motorway at West Pennant Hills via twin tunnels (with capacity for three lanes in each direction), providing a continuous free flowing motorway bypassing 21 surface traffic lights.

Federal Assistant Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs and NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay were on site today where a 40-tonne piling rig broke the first ground.

Tunnel shafts will be excavated to a depth of up to 93 metres (at Wilson Road) (or 305 feet) below ground surface, a distance equivalent to the length of a rugby field, providing a launch point for road headers which will tunnel to the north and south.

Minister Briggs said NorthConnex is yet another example of the Australian and NSW Governments building critical road infrastructure for Sydney which Labor failed to deliver.

“An Infrastructure Australia national audit revealed Pennant Hills Road as the most expensive road in the country, based on cost of delays caused by congestion. NorthConnex will fix this,” Mr Briggs said.

“With traffic congestion currently costing Sydney over $6 billion per year, a figure set to grow to $28 billion a year by 2031 under a do nothing scenario, we are building the vital game changing projects the state needs.

“The project will save motorists 15 minutes travel time compared to Pennant Hills Road, support 8,700 jobs, and inject around $4 billion dollars into the NSW economy.”

Minister Gay said tunnel shaft excavation work was a significant milestone in making this project a reality and builds on major project work already well underway.

“Since February, workers have been out day and night to get construction to the point where we can now gear up for the real deal—the tunnelling,” Mr Gay said.

“When completed, the new twin tunnels will be capable of carrying more than 100,000 vehicles each day—or 50,000 in each direction—including removing 5,000 trucks from Pennant Hills Road.

“NorthConnex will be great for tradespeople and motorists travelling between Western Sydney and the Central Coast and Hunter region—it acts as a bypass of Sydney's busy CBD.”

Major tunnelling work is expected to commence later this year, with full project completion expected in 2019.

Project update

Work today is taking place at the NorthConnex northern interchange compound in Wahroonga, which is one of four sites where tunnelling will be carried out with other work taking place at the southern interchange compound, Trelawney Street and Wilson Road.

Piling work will also build foundations for acoustic sheds to be built across tunnel shafts to minimise noise and dust, reducing the impact of tunnelling work for local residents and businesses.

The site provides direct access for heavy vehicles between the northern interchange compound and the M1 to ensure trucks and heavy machinery remain off local roads during tunnelling work.

The northern interchange compound site is only temporary for the construction of NorthConnex. Once the project is complete, the site will be rehabilitated and returned to the community.

Road users and nearby residents are thanked for their patience around short term changes needed to accommodate NorthConnex work.