Sydney's Road Tunnels
- Road Tunnels
- Historic Tunnels
- Military Tunnels and Bunkers
- Forgotten Tunnels on the City Circle
- Railway Tunnels
- Harbour Tunnels
- Sydney's Lost Tunnels
- Sydney's Abandoned Railway Tunnels
- Underground Reservoirs
The 1.7 km Eastern Distributor motorway was built in the 1990s to ease the bottlenecks caused in Sydney's inner eastern suburbs as a result of the through traffic heading south from the Harbour Tunnel and Cahill Expressway weaving its way through the narrow streets of Darlinghurst and Surry Hills and on to Southern Cross Drive. It is part of the 110-kilometre Sydney Orbital Network. For about half its length, it is in a trench inside South Dowling Street.
It is comprised of a series of roads and tunnels, part of which were constructed in a double deck configuration with the southbound lanes below the northbound lanes. The roadway, in spite of it having toll booths which slow traffic down, moves north-south traffic efficiently and has cut the duration of a north shore to Sydney Airport journey in half.
The project's centrepiece is the 1.7-kilometre (1.1 mi) piggyback tunnel under one of Australia's most densely populated urban areas, necessitated due to the requirement of three lanes in each direction within the existing roadway corridor. The unique double-deck, three lanes per direction design comprises a large, single tunnel excavation. The tunnel's claim to fame at the time it was built was that at 24.5 metres across at its widest point, it was the widest tunnel in the world.
At a cost of A$730 million, the motorway was opened on 19 December 1999, except for the William Street on and off ramps which were opened on 23 July 2000, just in time for the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympic Games. Since opening, the motorway has been tolled in one direction (northbound) with the toll plazas at Woolloomooloo and at the William Street exit. The toll will be removed in 2048 when the contract held by Airport Motorway Limited (AML) expires.
The Harbour Tunnel, a Government/Private Enterprise Project, with a cost of $738 Million, was opened in August 1992. The 2.3 km tunnel cut crossing time by ten minutes in peak hour and is said to save 13 million litres of fuel a year. With two lanes north and two south, running parallel in separate sections, the tunnel has a design life of 100 years and was created to reduce bridge traffic by up to 60,000 vehicles per day. The idea of a transport tunnel under the harbour was first proposed by two Sydney businessmen in 1885. their scheme was for twin tunnels, one for trams and one for horses and pedestrians. They offered to build it at their cost but charge a toll over a period of years so as to recoup their investment before handling the tunnels over to the State Government.
Sydney's first freeway - the Cahill Expressway - is that part of the southern approaches to the Sydney Harbour Bridge which directs traffic off and onto the bridge to and from the eastern sector of the CBD via a raised roadway on the top deck of a two level steel structure across the front of Circular Quay. The twin lines of the City Circle railway and Circular Quay station occupy the middle level of the structure, the Circular Quay ferry terminals and shops are located on the ground floor level.
In order to make a right turn onto the Harbour Bridge, drivers travelling west across the front of Circular Quay first pass through a tunnel at the western end of the Quay, before looping around through a three-quarter circle through what begins as a deep cutting and ends at roadway level where the two lanes join the Harbour Bridge's southern approach roadway.
The Kings Cross Tunnel is made up of twin 3-lane tubes beneath the locality in inner eastern Sydney known as Kings Cross. Traffic from the city enters the tunnel via William Street at Darlinghurst Road, emerging at Waratah Road, near where William Street becomes New South Head Road. It was constructed by the cut and cover method and the airspace above the tunnel later sold for development. The tunnel was coordinated with the construction of the Eastern Suburbs Railway as they are in close proximity to each other. Construction of the tunnel began in June 1973; its was opened to traffic on 15th December, 1975 and completed at a cost of $21.3 million, including $13.1 million for property acquisition.
The purpose of the tunnel was to reduce the conflict between through traffic, local traffic and cross traffic in the Kings Cross precinct. The importance of the tunnel itself has been reduced following the construction of the Cross City Tunnel (opened in June 2005) which bypasses the Sydney CBD altogether.
The Lane Cove Tunnel is a A$1.1 billion, 3.6 km twin-tunnel tollway which connects the M2 Motorway at North Ryde with the Gore Hill Freeway at Artarmon. It is forms part of the M2 and the 110 km Sydney Orbital Network. It was intended to replace the few kilometres motorists had to drive along Epping Road, through the suburb of Lane Cove, between two sections of freeway.
During construction, in November 2005, the roof of a ventilation tunnel for the project collapsed. The collapse caused a 10 by 10 metre crater to appear near the southbound exit ramp of the Pacific Highway. It also damaged a three-storey building at 11 13 Longueville Road, forcing the evacuation of 47 people. Emergency crews pumped 1000 cubic metres of concrete into the hole to try to stop the housing block from collapsing into it. The tunnel was opened in March 2007.
Like the Cross City Tunnel, the Lane Cove Motorway has attracted significant media attention and public condemnation over changes to the road network in the area, instigated with the primary aim of encouraging traffic to use the new tolled tunnel instead of the untolled surface road. A number of changes to the local road network have since been made to try to overcome the disconnection of the local community resulting from the extensive road work reinstating right hand lanes, adding pedestrian crossings and making improvements to public transport infrastructure.
The Cross City Tunnel is a much-maligned, privately funded and operated 2.1 km-long twin-tunnel tollway. It links Darling Harbour on the Western fringe of the central business district to Rushcutters Bay in the Eastern Suburbs. The tunnel is actually two distinct tunnels and they largely follow a route underneath William Street and Park or Bathurst Streets, depending on whether it is eastbound or westbound. It links with the Eastern Distributor, enabling vehicles traveling from the West to travel to the Airport and Southern Suburbs. From the Eastern Distributor Northbound, motorists have the ability to connect to the Cross City Tunnel Westbound, avoiding the CBD once again.
Construction work for the cross city tunnel commenced in January 2003; the tunnel opened in August 2005. The tunnel is generally seen as a fairly spectacular failure as a Public Private Partnership. Built at a cost of about $800 million, it has failed to attract the traffic required to meet interest payments. Even when use of the tunnel was free, the traffic did not approach the forecast traffic levels of 90,000 vehicles per day.
The tunnel was predicted to fail before construction even began. A year before tunnelling commenced and four years before it ultimately fell into receivership due to low traffic volumes, a Sydney traffic planner told local media that the tunnel was incapable of carrying the volume of cars that had been predicted. A decade after its opening, the tunnel had still failed to reach even 50% of the forecast traffic levels.
Since its opening, the tunnel has attracted significant media attention, as many of the diversions put in place on the streets above caused increased traffic congestion and motorist confusion. There have also been complaints about deceptive signage indicating the tunnel was the only route to get to the Harbour Crossings (in particular, the Sydney Harbour Tunnel) from Sydney's Eastern Suburbs.
One of the tunnel's major shortcomings has been the fact that traffic is forced straight onto suburban roads at both ends, creating additional traffic congestion at these locations. This might be rectified at the Western end if construction of the M4 East tunnel goes ahead.