Victoria Pass traffic congestion.

Great Western Highway holiday congestion

The Great Western Highway through the Blue Mountains can experience significant congestion during long weekends, school holidays and other special events.

Transport for NSW is working to help manage this congestion to minimise your travel delays and keep everyone safe on their journey through the mountains.

For the latest traffic updates, call 132 701, visit livetraffic.com or download the Live Traffic NSW App.

Project information

At the end of school holidays, long weekends and special events, a significant amount of traffic travels east on the Great Western Highway towards Sydney.

This generally causes increased congestion, traffic queues and travel delays. Queues begin at the traffic lights in Blackheath, and build back towards the west.

Traffic incidents or road repairs can also lead to an increase in congestion.

In these situations, traffic queues can begin to build down Victoria Pass.

On the 2021 Easter long weekend, motorists experienced delays in excess of two hours between Lithgow and Blackheath.

Victoria Pass is part of the Great Western Highway, connecting the Hartley Valley to the upper Blue Mountains.

It is the steepest Highway in NSW, and part of the only major road within 50km of Greater Sydney with sections of just one lane in either direction.

The stone-walled Victoria Pass Causeway, built by convict labour between 1830 and 1838, is of state heritage significance. You can find out more about its heritage significance.

As traffic travels slowly up Victoria Pass, stopping and starting, vehicles can overheat and break down.

Tow trucks and emergency vehicles must navigate the congestion to access breakdowns and accidents.

These factors all add to congestion and create longer delays for all motorists.

On the final day of the 2020 June long weekend 32 vehicles broke down or overheated on Victoria Pass.

Transport for NSW is working to make journeys safer and minimise travel time delays during peak congestion periods.

Officers monitor traffic on the Great Western Highway and when vehicles begin to queue down Victoria Pass, the following traffic management plan is put into place:

  • Motorists are held at the base of Victoria Pass.
  • The road between the base and the top of the Pass is allowed to clear of vehicles.
  • Vehicles are released in small groups.
  • Groups of vehicles travel up the Pass in one smooth movement.

With this traffic management plan, vehicles are queued on level ground in the Hartley Valley, This places less strain on vehicle engines and allows better access to Victoria Pass in emergency situations.

This Plan has been used on long weekends, school holidays and during emergency road repairs since October 2020.

This Traffic Management Plan has been shown to improve road safety and greatly reduce the risk of break down.

Transport for NSW encourages motorists to try the following steps to avoid congestion and queues on the Great Western Highway at Victoria Pass:

  • Plan your trip – leave earlier, or leave later, to avoid the peak congestion times of 11am-7pm.
  • Consider alternative routes – traffic management at the base of Mount Victoria affects east bound travellers. For your return to Sydney, the Hume Highway or the Golden Highway may offer a better alternative, depending on where you start your journey. However, please be aware that these Highways do also experience some congestion at the end of school holidays and long weekends.
  • Use public transport – For a day trip or for travel beyond the Blue Mountains, use public transport. For information on booking travel beyond Lithgow, please go to TransportNSW website or call 13 22 32.

For the latest traffic updates, call 132 701, visit livetraffic.com or download the Live Traffic NSW App.

No-one likes congestion and we are doing our best to manage and minimise your travel delay.

Please drive to the conditions, allow extra time and follow the direction of signs and traffic control.

Please treat traffic controllers with respect – they are working during holidays and often in adverse weather, trying to make sure everyone gets home safely.

For the latest traffic updates, call 132 701, visit livetraffic.com or download the Live Traffic NSW App.

The NSW and Australian Federal Governments have committed a combined $4.5 billion towards upgrading the Great Western Highway between Katoomba and Lithgow.

Transport for NSW is currently investigating a tunnel between Blackheath and Little Hartley as part of the Upgrade. A tunnel offers a way to bypass the convict-built Victoria Pass and provide more efficient access and gradient for vehicles travelling into the mountains.

The Great Western Highway Upgrade Program will complete the final 34 kilometre link in a modern dual carriageway roadway across the Blue Mountains. It will reduce congestion and deliver safer, more efficient and reliable journeys for those travelling in, around and through the Blue Mountains. It will also provide a better connection for communities in the Central West.

Read more about the Great Western Highway Upgrade Program.

Victoria Pass map

For further information on the Victoria Pass traffic management plan, or the Great Western Highway Upgrade from Katoomba to Lithgow, please call 1800 953 777 or email gwhd@transport.nsw.gov.au.

Contact us

if you have any questions or would like more information please contact out project team:

Phone: 1800 953 777

Email: gwhd@transport.nsw.gov.au

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

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