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NSW Government to build Australia’s longest road tunnel under the Blue Mountains

The NSW Government is set to build Australia’s longest road tunnel under the Blue Mountains.

The 11km stretch of tunnel between Blackheath and Mount Victoria could end up ballooning to $8billion or $730,000 per metre.

Regional Roads Minister Paul Toole said the tunnel, which forms part of the Great Western Highway upgrade, would be ‘Northconnex but better’ for motorists bound for the state’s central-west.

The 11km stretch of road between Blackheath and Mount Victoria could end up ballooning out to $8billion

The announcement comes on the back of heavy delays on Blue Mountains roads over the Easter Long Weekend

The announcement comes on the back of heavy delays on Blue Mountains roads over the Easter Long Weekend

The Berejiklian Government has given the project $2.5b for upgrades on the Great Western Highway between Katoomba and Lithgow, but Mr Toole said it isn't enough

The Berejiklian Government has given the project $2.5b for upgrades on the Great Western Highway between Katoomba and Lithgow, but Mr Toole said it isn’t enough

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the proposed tunnel 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.

Mr Barilaro said despite it being an ‘immensely complex and ambitious plan,’ the state government is ‘working hard to make it happen’.

‘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,’ he said. 

Mr Toole said the solution would link the two tunnels already determined for Blackheath and Mount Victoria to deliver a safer, more reliable connection through the Blue Mountains.

‘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,’ Mr Toole said.

‘As part of this upgrade, we’ve already committed to a 4.5-kilometre tunnel to bypass Blackheath and a 4-kilometre tunnel underneath Victoria Pass, one of the steepest roads in NSW.

‘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.

‘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.’

Mr Toole said the eastern entry for the proposed tunnel will be on the outskirts of Blackheath to minimise impacts on local homes and be built in a section of National Park land to the south of Evans Lookout Road.

‘At the Western end, the portal location in Little Hartley has been modified to improve safety and reduce property impacts in the valley.’ 

Mr Toole said heavy traffic over the Easter weekend had reiterated the importance of the Great Western Highway Upgrade and safe, reliable connections over the mountains for locals and travellers alike.

Regional Roads Minister Paul Toole (right) said the tunnel would be 'Northconnex but better' while Deputy Premier John Barilaro (left) said the government is 'working hard to make it happen'

Regional Roads Minister Paul Toole (right) said the tunnel would be ‘Northconnex but better’ while Deputy Premier John Barilaro (left) said the government is ‘working hard to make it happen’

‘This is an immensely challenging project but, once complete, it will deliver dual carriageway in both directions for over 100 kilometres,’ Mr Toole said.

‘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.’

Construction on the Great Western Highway Upgrade is expected to start at Medlow Bath in 2022, with the full upgrade expected to be completed within 8 to 10 years.

Mr Toole said the community would continue to shape the design of the upgrade as it moves 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.’ 

The Berejiklian Government has given the project $2.5b for upgrades on the Great Western Highway between Katoomba and Lithgow, but Mr Toole said it isn’t enough.   

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said despite the proposal being complex and ambitious,’ the government is ‘working hard to make it happen’.

The multi-billion-dollar tunnel would have bypassed the nearly 200-year-old Victoria Pass – a dual carriageway prone to heavy congestion during peak periods – on the range’s western side.

The 4km and 4.5km tunnels at Blackheath and Mount Victoria will form part of the Great Western Highway duplication project to reduce the level of traffic that runs through the Blue Mountains. 

During the Easter period, it took motorists an extra two hours to cross the Blue Mountains because of heavy traffic.

He said large drilling machines are already boring holes into the ground near the highway to find suitable entry points for the tunnels. 

Construction on the two separate tunnels is expected to start next year. 

The road between Katoomba and Lithgow will also be duplicated to create a four-five lane highway.

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