Australia’s longest road tunnel suggested for Great Western Highway upgrade

The location of the Great Western Highway among Sydney and the Central West, also it over passes the sensitive Blue Mountains environment and several towns and villages. In order to provide safer, more efficient, reliable journeys in, around and through the Mountains, and to better link the communities of the Central West, a budget with value of EUR1.60 bn (AUD2.5 bn) has been awarded to this project by   NSW Government. The Great Western Highway Upgrade Program, listed by Infrastructure Australia as a priority initiative, proposes to deliver approximately 34 kms of four lane highway between Katoomba and Lithgow, with the route to be progressively upgraded in stages.

While the intended process in the Katoomba, Medlow Bath, Blackheath, Mount Victoria, Little Hartley, Hartley, South Bowenfels and Bowenfels areas, is in the investigation phase now, by connecting the currently committed tunnels to bypass Blackheath (4.5km) and underneath Victoria Pass (4 km) – one of the steepest roads in NSW – through the Blue Mountains, excavating a 11-km tunnel that will be the central component of an upgraded Great Western Highway is reliable. Ongoing works involving taking water and soil samples using a drill mounted on a truck, installing noise monitors, biodiversity studies, traffic studies and environmental surveys. Due to the necessity of minimizing the effect on the native homes and also being built in a section of National Park land to the south of Evans Lookout Road the eastern entry for the new long proposed tunnel will be on the outskirts of Blackheath.

At the western terminal, the portal position in Little Hartley has been improved to better safety and decrease property impacts in the valley. Transport for NSW is engaging with National Parks about the upgrade’s impacts on land adjacent to the proposed portals. Neither portal would impact the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. The construction plans of the long tunnel will be canceled If the current investigations reveal that it isn’t viable, so NSW Government will proceed with a tunnel at Blackheath and a tunnel at Mount Victoria. The determined date for commencing the construction procedure on the Great Western Highway Upgrade is in 2022, while the full upgrade expected to be completed within 8 to 10 years. According to the reports, previous December Aurecon and Jacobs Arcadis Joint Venture secured the contracts to refine the design and prepare environmental assessments for Easter and western section respectively.

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