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Wed June 29 2022

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Plans confirmed for Australia's longest road tunnel

16 May Australia’s longest road tunnel is to be built in the Blue Mountains, the New South Wales (NSW) government has announced.

An 11km toll-free tunnel from Blackheath to Little Hartley has been chosen as the preferred option for section of the Great Western Highway following feasibility analysis and investigations.

Deputy premier and minister for regional NSW Paul Toole said the proposed central tunnel would be Australia’s longest road tunnel. “This is a history-making legacy project that will deliver safer and more efficient journeys for locals, tourists and freight travelling between the Central West and the East Coast,” he said. “The tunnel will reduce congestion and improve safety for local residents, tourists and freight operators.

“In May last year, we started investigating plans to join the two to create the longest road tunnel in the entire country – and today, we’re locking that plan in as the preferred option.”

He added that plans are on track for shovels to hit the ground on the east and west stages of the upgrade early next year. The Blackheath to Little Hartley tunnel design features dual carriageways for both eastbound and westbound motorists in separate twin tunnels and a gentler gradient to cut travel times and improve freight efficiencies, he said.

Minister for regional transport and roads Sam Farraway said the Blue Mountains tunnel would deliver a raft of benefits that would transform the connection between Sydney and western NSW.

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“This tunnel project, as part of the major upgrade of the Great Western Highway between Lithgow and Katoomba, will help improve the economic development, productivity and accessibility in and through the Blue Mountains, Central West and Orana regions,” he said.

“It will improve the resilience of the state’s major road corridor across 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 alignment will improve road safety through the mountains and the tunnel will help unlock the potential of western NSW, for the benefit of all residents and businesses in this important part of the state.

“Once the full upgrade to the Great Western Highway is complete, it is predicted to save motorists up to 30 minutes between Katoomba and Lithgow during busy periods.

It’s time to make the Western Highway Great again and that is exactly what this upgrade will do.”

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