A major breakthrough in addressing Sydney’s traffic congestion has taken place, with the first road header heading underground to start work on the first WestConnex tunnel.
Premier Mike Baird and Minister for Roads Duncan Gay watched as the piece of excavating equipment made its way down a ramp at Cintra Park in Concord to start tunnelling the long-awaited M4 East.
The road header will be one of four based at the site, working underground in both directions to create the 5.5km tunnels which will link Homebush with Haberfield, in the first stage of WestConnex.
“This is a milestone event for the congestion-busting WestConnex motorway, which will deliver more than $20 billion in benefits to NSW and create 10,000 jobs during construction,” Mr Baird said.
The tunnels will be among the widest in the southern hemisphere, allowing for a safer and quicker journey for motorists currently stuck at the end of the M4, bypassing a heavily congested section of Parramatta Road.
The majority of the Cintra Park site will be landscaped and returned to the community for their use on completion of construction. A new world class hockey field, with lighting, amenities, and player facilities, has already been built at Concord to replace the previous field that was located at Cintra Park.
“Sydney can’t wait a minute longer for WestConnex which will cut 40 minutes from a typical journey between Parramatta and Sydney Airport, and bypass up to 52 sets of traffic lights,” Mr Baird said.
Mr Gay said the government was getting on with delivering much-needed infrastructure for Sydney’s growing population, with tunnelling starting at four different sites over coming months to build the M4 East, which will open to motorists in 2019.
“We are cracking on with delivering the M4 East, a critical tunnel link which quite frankly should have been built a decade ago,” Mr Gay said.
The M4 East will connect to a widened M4 at Homebush and feature connections at Concord Road, Parramatta Road and City West Link.
When complete, WestConnex will transform Sydney by joining the M4 and M5 in a continuous motorway with connections at Rozelle, Camperdown, St Peters and Sydney Airport.