Ariel view of Blackheath

Great Western Highway Upgrade Program – Blackheath to Little Hartley

Together, the Australian and NSW Governments are investing more than $4.5 billion towards upgrading the Great Western Highway between Katoomba and Lithgow.

The Katoomba to Lithgow duplication will provide major economic and safety benefits. It will improve the connection between Central West NSW and Sydney, reduce congestion, improve resilience and freight productivity, and provide a safer and more reliable journey for thousands of residents, commuters, tourists and freight operators who travel in, around and through the Blue Mountains.

Transport has conducted extensive investigations into the feasibility of a tunnel between Blackheath and Little Hartley. Investigations have confirmed that two identical (twin) tunnels, one eastbound and one westbound, around 11 kilometres long would deliver more benefits for the environment, the community and road users than two shorter tunnels beneath the villages of Blackheath and Mount Victoria.

Transport will take the Blackheath to Little Hartley tunnel option forward for further development, community consultation and environmental investigation.

Latest news

MAY 2022

MAY 2022Australia's longest road tunnel locked for Blue Mountains

The NSW Government today confirmed the 11-kilometre toll-free tunnel from Blackheath to Little Hartley as the preferred option following an in-depth feasibility analysis and extensive investigation process.

View the media release for more information.

APR 2022

APR 2022Facts on Freight

View information on freight in the Blue Mountains.

NOV 2021

NOV 2021Flora & fauna field work starts along future GWH tunnel

corridor

A team of ecologists are documenting local wildlife and plants in the Blue Mountains and Hartley Valley, to ensure impacts to local flora and fauna are minimised.

View the media release for more information.

SEP 2021

SEP 2021Historic Blue Mountains Tunnel a step closer

Plans to build Australia’s longest road tunnel between Blackheath and Little Hartley are powering ahead, with a major contract awarded for the environmental assessment.

AECOM Australia had been selected in a competitive tender process to work on the proposed 11-kilometre tunnel, a central component of the Great Western Highway upgrade between Katoomba and Lithgow.

View the media release for more information.

Project information

Project background

In 2010, Transport consulted on a preferred option for an upgrade of the Great Western Highway between Mount Victoria and Lithgow. This consultation process confirmed a tunnel and viaduct bypass of Mount Victoria and Victoria Pass, and the alignment was adopted into the Local Environment Plans of Lithgow and Blue Mountains City Councils.

In 2019, the State Government committed funding towards the upgrade of the road corridor between Katoomba and Lithgow and Transport began consultation on strategic options for this upgrade.
During 2020, Transport consulted with the Blackheath Co‑Design Committee (BCC) on four broad route options for the upgrade at Blackheath. The BCC advised that their preferred option was a tunnel bypass of Blackheath.

Broader community consultation on the preferred option for Blackheath confirmed that the community preferred a tunnel bypass between portals south of Evans Lookout Road and near the existing Mount Boyce heavy vehicle safety station.

In May 2021, the NSW Government announced that Transport would investigate the feasibility of a tunnel between Blackheath and Little Hartley. Studies have confirmed that two identical (twin) tunnels, one eastbound and one westbound, around 11 kilometres long between Blackheath and Little Hartley is the most viable option and Transport will take this option forward for further development, community consultation and environmental investigation.

 

A safer journey

A tunnel between Blackheath and Little Hartley would provide a more direct route. It would also make the journey safer, incorporating modern design and safety improvements and reducing and straightening out curves and gradient changes.

Less disruption to traffic

Most of the construction work for the tunnel would happen underground. Building portals and connecting roads is one of the most disruptive parts of a tunnel upgrade. With less work on the surface – particularly between Blackheath and Mount Victoria – the upgrade will have less impact on traffic.

A more reliable connection

Recent extreme weather has again highlighted that the Blue Mountains needs a connection through the mountains that enables reliable access for emergency services and traffic under all conditions. The tunnel would create an additional option for travel in the mountains, alongside the existing surface highway, and Bells Line of Road.

Travel time savings

Creating a tunnel between Blackheath and Little Hartley will divert through traffic from the townships of Mount Victoria and Blackheath. This will improve travel times by reducing local traffic congestion, making more reliable trips.

Reduced environmental impacts

With only two portals and the highway route moved underground, there would be less impacts on National Park.

  • Two identical (twin) tunnels, one eastbound and one westbound, around 11 kilometres long, generally to the south of the existing Great Western Highway and Mount Victoria.
  • Two lanes of traffic flow in each tunnel, to separate traffic and increase safety.
  • Road shoulders to allow vehicles to stop safely without interrupting traffic flow.
  • A possible tunnel depth of up to 200 metres below ground at the deepest point to the south of Mount Victoria.
  • Tunnel operation facilities including ventilation systems, drainage management, signage, lighting, and emergency evacuation systems.

Features of the tunnel are subject to further development design, Environmental Impact Statement and detailed design.

Transport will further develop the preliminary concept design which will be used as the basis for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Department of Planning and Environment will place the EIS on display and invite community feedback in the second half of 2022.

The EIS exhibition is your opportunity to have your say on the development of the Blackheath to Little Hartley tunnel.

Blackheath tunnel options consultation October - November 2020

The preferred strategic route option for the bypass at Blackheath was released for consultation on 12 October 2020, focusing on a long tunnel with various portal options. Consultation continued until 28 November. The engagement included three community information sessions, held online to comply with advice from NSW Health and Covid-19 restrictions. 241 people booked into the online consultation sessions, while a further 125 people watched the recorded sessions at a later date. Seven phone consultations were also held, at the request of individual residents. More than 6211 people visited the online virtual consultation portal and more than 2486 items of feedback were received by the project team.

You can view or download the community consultation summary report (PDF, 5.52Mb).

Katoomba to Lithgow strategic design consultation November - December 2019

The strategic design for the upgrade of the Great Western Highway from Katoomba to Lithgow was released for community consultation on 07 November 2019, with consultation continuing to 16 December 2019. The engagement included nine community information sessions, two pop up displays and one public meeting held along the corridor at locations including Katoomba, Medlow Bath, Blackheath, Mount Victoria, Hartley and Lithgow. The sessions were attended by 1350 people and 1759 items of feedback were received by the project team.

You can view or download the community consultation summary report (PDF, 18.5Mb).

The Blackheath Co-Design Committee (BCC) was formed by Transport for NSW in March 2020, following feedback from the community. The Committee included stakeholder group representatives, selected community representatives, and representatives from the Blue Mountains City Council and emergency services.

The BCC was not a decision making body, but the outcome of the BCC is an important input into the Government's decision-making process for determining a preferred route option and design as the program progresses.

The Committee's unanimously preferred option was for a long tunnel underneath Blackheath.

Blackheath Co-Design Committee Meeting Minutes

View or download:

Documents

Project notifications

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April 2022 project notification

Social impact assessment surveys from Blackheath to Hartley from 11 April.

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March 2022 project notification

Geotechinical work on the Great Western Highway, from Blackheath to Little Hartley.

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March 2022 project notification

Emergency work on Great Western Highway, Mount Victoria.

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March 2022 project notification

Traffic management on the Great Western Highway at Mount Victoria following record rainfall.

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Novemeber 2021 project notification

Field investigations in Blackheath, Mount Victoria and Little Hartley from 22 November.

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Novemeber 2021 project notification

Field investigations on Great Western Highway, Blackheath from Wednesday 3 November.

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August 2021 project notification

Air quality monitoring station installation in Blackheath, Mount Victoria and Little Hartley from Monday 16 August to Monday 13 September 2021.

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January 2021 project notification

Geotechnical investigation work between Blackheath and Little Hartley.

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Fact sheets

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August 2021 Air quality monitoring stations fact sheet

Great Western Highway Upgrade Program.

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August 2021 Air quality fact sheet

Great Western Highway Upgrade Program.

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Media releases

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15 May 2022

Australia's longest road tunnel locked in for Blue Mountains

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22 February 2022

New approach for environmental assessment for Blue Mountains communities.

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17 November 2021

Flora and fauna field work starts along future GWH tunnel corridor.

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14 September 2021

Historic Blue Mountains tunnel a step closer.

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31 August 2021

Preservation of Aboriginal heritage a key part of Blue Mountains Highway upgrade.

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17 August 2021

Baseline air quality testing through Blue Mountains as part of great Western Highway upgrade.

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14 June 2021

Great Western Highway upgrade powering ahead.

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14 June 2021

Safer passage through Medlow Bath ahead of full highway upgrade.

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4 June 2021

Archaeological dig to explore Aboriginal connection to Blue Mountains.

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3 May 2021

Australia’s longest road tunnel proposed for Great Western Highway Upgrade.

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3 March 2021

3 March 2021 Doing the groundwork for highway upgrade.

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18 February 2021

Highway history to be preserved for future generations.

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30 October 2020

More time to have your say on Blackheath tunnel.

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12 October 2020

Tunnel options best fit for Blackheath.

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1 October 2020

Heading west this long weekend? Making your journey home faster and safer.

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4 June 2020

Two possible bypasses of Blackheath considered by committee.

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13 May 2020

Locals have their say on Great Western Highway upgrade.

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28 February 2020

Blackheath locals to help co-design Great Western Highway upgrade.

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3 December 2019

Blackheath community invited to meeting to learn more about the Great Western Highway upgrade.

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7 November 2019

Have your say on Great Western Highway.

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11 March 2019

Green light for $2.5 billion Great western highway duplication.

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Contact us

If you have any questions or would like more information please contact our project team:

Phone: 1800 953 777

Email: gwhd@transport.nsw.gov.au

Post: Great Western Highway - PO Box 2332, Orange NSW 2800

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