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Full steam ahead for Australia’s longest road tunnel

All going to plan, the proposed 11-kilometre tunnel through the Blue Mountains would be Australia’s longest road tunnel, set to reduce the number of trucks travelling through the towns of Blackheath and Mount Victoria.

The NSW Government has confirmed an 11-kilometre toll-free tunnel from Blackheath to Little Hartley is the preferred option, following feasibility analysis and investigation processes.

However the Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) will ultimately determine whether the proposed tunnel can proceed.

Part of the Great Western Highway Upgrade, the Blackheath to Little Hartley tunnel design features dual carriageways for eastbound and westbound traffic in separate twin tunnels, which Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole says will cut travel times and improve freight efficiencies.

“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,” Toole said.

“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.

“This is a complex, ambitious plan but we’re on track for shovels to hit the ground on the east and west stages of the upgrade early next year.”

According to Transport For NSW’s Black Heath to Little Hartley Upgrade document (May 2022), “Heavy vehicles entering and exiting the Highway from the Darling Causeway would continue to use the existing surface highway through Mount Victoria and Blackheath. However, with most heavy vehicles from the Central West using the tunnel bypass there would be a substantial reduction in the volume of heavy vehicles coming through these townships.

“Most of the heavy vehicles travelling into or out of the Blue Mountains would use the tunnel, bypassing Blackheath and Mount Victoria.”

Transport for NSW will continue its program of consultation with Blue Mountains and Central West communities and the Wiradjuri, Dharug and Gundungurra communities through a series of online and face-to-face information sessions about the tunnel project in coming weeks. For information about registering for these consultation sessions, please click here.

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