What the new NorthConnex tunnel means for truckies
THE 9km NorthConnex motorway in Sydney - Australia's longest and deepest tunnel - is promising massive time savings for truckies when it opens towards the end of this year.
Pat Doyle, NorthConnex project director, Transport for NSW, tells Big Rigs that those that use this $3 billion north-south route will reduce travel times by up to 15 minutes and avoid 21 sets of traffic lights.
"You'll be able to travel between Newcastle and Melbourne without single set of traffic lights, and bypass 40 traffic lights on the Pacific Highway to the centre of Sydney," said Mr Doyle.
"Add that to the increased fuel efficiency and reduced wear and tear, 3.5m wide lands and a breakdown lane with 24-hour monitoring, and there are real benefits."
But they will come at a cost.
The motorway will be tolled at the same price as the nearby M2, currently $7.83 for cars (Class A vehicles) and $23.50 for Class B (trucks or buses). There are no concessions planned to compensate operators who may be feeling the pinch from the pandemic.
Mr Doyle said the Government's tolling regime is designed to reduce the state's upfront contribution to its partnership with Transurban in delivering the motorway.
"This frees up capacity to invest in other essential services, such as hospitals, schools and public transport."
Heavy vehicle drivers who have a local destination off Pennant Hills Road can continue using the existing route without charge, however.
A vehicle transporting dangerous goods with a dangerous goods placard, or sign, and an oversize vehicle operating under a Class 1 permit, or notice approved to use Pennant Hills Road, are also exempt from having to travel in the tunnel.
All other drivers of trucks over 12.5m long, or over 2.8m clearance height, must head into the tunnel and if caught flouting the rules will be fined $191 (no demerit points).
Two giant gantries with cameras have been installed on Pennant Hills - in the north at Normanhurst and in the south at Beecroft/West Pennant Hills - to monitor traffic flow between the M1 and M2.
"This is an exciting project, but we also recognise it's a big change as trucks and buses account for around a quarter of the traffic on Pennant Hills Road on weekdays and two thirds on weeknights," said Mr Doyle.
"Up to 5,000 trucks a day are expected to move from using this route through local suburbs to travelling through the new NorthConnex tunnels.
"We'll continue engaging with industry, including when we have an opening date, and in the meantime we've published a fact sheet and a website at nswroads.work/phr."