| 21.12,11. 05:41 AM |
$400 million to widen the M5, Sydney's slowest motorway
December 21, 2011
WORK on a $400 million construction project to widen the M5 will begin immediately, finally giving motorists some relief on one of Sydney's most clogged motorways.
After decades of frustration, Premier Barry O'Farrell will today announce that a 20km stretch of road will be expanded by one lane in both directions, easing congestion for the 90,000 motorists who use it every day.
However, while widening the motorway between Camden Valley Way at Prestons to King Georges Rd at Beverly Hills will save an hour a week in travel time, drivers will have to endure up to two years of misery with construction expected to last until late 2014.
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The $400 million project will be funded by Interlink Roads, with the state government providing an extra $50 million for noise abatement.
Interlink is half-owned by toll road company Trans- urban, and 50 per cent owned by fund and superannuation management companies.
Only months ago, Mr O'Farrell's election commitment looked to be in doubt, with negotiations breaking down with the private sector.
"The M5 is one of Sydney's busiest road corridors and the widening will benefit motorists and freight operators travelling the full length of the motorway as well as those making shorter trips," he said.
"This major infrastructure project for western Sydney is a win for motorists and a win for the state's economy."
The upgrade will also include replacing the entire road surface and building 22 new electronic signs at critical intersections to give motorists traffic information.
Under the previous Labor government, widening of the M5 had already begun west of Camden Valley Way.
There have been long-held concerns that no amount of widening will ease the bottleneck that occurs at the M5 East tunnel, near the airport, which shrinks to two lanes.
While the toll won't be increased it will remain in place until 2026 - three years after it was due to be scrapped.
Roads Minister Duncan Gay said construction work would occur at times to not inconvenience drivers but there would be disruptions.
"There will be no increase in tolls," he said.
"More than half of motorists travelling east-bound on the M5 leave the motorway before the start of the M5 East, so this project will provide benefits for tens of thousands of motorists. Construction is not expected to have any impact on public transport."
Planning for the project was granted last month and includes a number of conditions, including that construction be completed by the end of 2014, weather permitting.
sIt comes after state and federal governments recently announced the jointly-funded $1.1 billion northern Sydney freight corridor, which is to be built next year.
In this year's state budget, the Government announced funding for the South West ($292 million) and North West ($314 million ) rail links; western Sydney black-spot program ($200 million) and continued funding for the Hunter Expressway.