Planning is underway on making an 11-kilometre tunnel the central component of an upgraded Great Western Highway between Katoomba and Lithgow.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the proposed tunnel, which would be the longest of its kind in Australia, would transform the state by better connecting the Central West to the east coast.
“We have already committed to tunnels at Blackheath and Mount Victoria – this proposal would see those tunnels joined together, creating the longest road tunnel in the country,” Mr Barilaro said.
“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.
“Completing the Katoomba to Lithgow section would deliver the final stage of a 130-kilometre upgrade, delivering dual carriageway on the Great Western Highway, a multi-decade program of works, making a safer, more resilient corridor.”
NSW Nationals Minister for Regional Transport and Roads Paul Toole said it was a positive step forward.
“The NSW Nationals in the state government know 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,” Mr Toole said.
“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.
“It will also mean less disruption for local residents and businesses during construction and a smoother, safer journey for those travelling underneath Blackheath and Mount Victoria as well as those travelling above.”.
Construction of the upgrade is expected to start at Medlow Bath next year, with the full upgrade expected to be completed within eight to 10 years.