NSW govt plans Blue Mountains mega tunnel

The NSW government is investigating whether it’s possible to build what would be the longest road tunnel in Australia in the Blue Mountains.

The proposed 11-kilometre tunnel would connect the east coast with the state’s central west, roads minister Paul Toole told journalists on Monday.

The work will form part of a $2.5 billion project to upgrade the Great Western Highway between Katoomba and Lithgow.

Artist’s impression of the eastern entry to the proposed Blue Mountains tunnel

The project would see the connection of a previously announced 4.5 kilometre tunnel at Blackheath, in the Upper Blue Mountains, and a proposed four kilometre tunnel Mount Victoria on the western limit.

“We’re now investigating connecting those two proposed tunnels into one longer tunnel,” roads minister Paul Toole said.

‘History-making’ project

He said up till now the plans for a Blue Mountains tunnel have been put into the too-hard basket but the government believes it can become a reality.

Roads minister Paul Toole announces plans for the Blue Mountains tunnel on May 3, 2021

“This would be a history-making project, delivering Australia’s longest road tunnel,” the minister said.

The eastern entry point will in a section of National Park on the outskirts of Blackheath and Transport for NSW will liaise with National Parks about any environmental impact.

Neither portal would affect the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area, the government says.

The project won’t go ahead if the tunnel proves unviable, Mr Toole said.

Work to being in 2022

Work on the Great Western Highway is expected to begin in 2022, with an eight-to-ten-year timeframe for completion.

Mr Toole said the government would know by mid next year if the 11km tunnel is feasible. Tunnel work, “long or short”, will begin in 2023.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said it was a 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 … to freight companies, to families and to holiday makers,” he said.

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8 thoughts on “NSW govt plans Blue Mountains mega tunnel

  1. I’m very concerned about building a tunnel in the middle of such a delicate ecosystem. I understand that going through the mountains is time consuming, do why not build a freeway bypass from Penrith to Lithgow away from the heritage mountains. They are Sydney’s lungs, don’t interfere with nature, we have done enough damage!

  2. Absolutely this tunnel should go ahead. Traffic over easter in the blue mts was maddness. 6 hours from Lithgow to Sydney due to some numties idea of road works needing to be done after all the weather 2 weeks prior. Generally a very busy road.

  3. No way can national park be used as the eastern entrance. National parks are for conservation not for nibbling at for development.

  4. This is so long overdue its almost embarrassing but at least it’s now being seriously discussed. This would be an enormous asset to NSW – open regional development, would be a boon to tourism, improve freight and commuter possibilities etc. It will be a game-changer to western NSW and should be fast-tracked and funded. What needs careful assessment is where its exits and entrances feed out into, and should the underground tunnel be extended ‘under Sydney’s metro sprawl’ to connect to other tunnels and freeways, even Port for produce export. Get it right and it will be sensational.

  5. Brilliant idea, the traffic over the Blue Mountains has been awful in recent times, also there should be a tunnel from the Central Coast to Lithgow, that can take all the trucks that come from the north coast into Sydney and back over the mountains to go to the Central tablelands, the saving in transport costs would be enormous. But yes lets start with this one and make it easier to get around, great idea.

  6. An eight to ten year time frame? That’s pathetic, in ten years the costs and the duration would have blown out to triple the estimates (as they always do). If you’re going to dig such a tunnel it should include a high speed rail freight and passenger link connecting to Melbourne and Adelaide via Bathurst or Orange. And get the thing up and running (i.e. completed) in two years, or forget it.

  7. If anything, railways please, not more roads; a sensible rail connection giving timely, comfortable passenger options and freight transport through the mountains to Lithgow, Dubbo and the west to take the pressure off roads. A road tunnel will just fill up with trucks when these should all be on an electricity powered rail – just look at the Chunnel, the Channel Tunnel between England and France, as a model of transport sustainability.

    What century does the NSW government think we in, and how does it think NSW will reach its emissions reductions targets by building more roads? we are still penalising EVs – this is madness. We seem to be going in exactly the wrong direction for the climate and for the environment.

  8. Here we go again!
    Another tunnel to be sold to this Governments business partners in toll roads like…Transurban!
    It would be better if the invested in a rail tunnel to get the trucks and Freight off the Blue Mountains roads.
    Mountains for tourism and travelers of all types.
    Rail tunnel would be cheaper and could be longer, less invasive
    Its the key infrastructure for any Fast rail too! A real benefit would help with reducing vehicle emissions and stimulate rural NSW!
    Making it quicker than road!

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