The NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, has announced today that the NorthConnex tunnel will open to traffic in the early of hours Saturday, 31 October 2020.
NatRoad CEO Warren Clark said, “The circumstances surrounding the treatment of heavy vehicles relating to NorthConnex is shameful, unfair and needs to be urgently reconsidered.”
The controversial and long foreshadowed NorthConnex is a nine-kilometre twin tunnel linking the M1 Pacific Motorway at Wahroonga to the Hills M2 Motorway at West Pennant Hills in Sydney’s north. It is compulsory for most heavy vehicles to use this tunnel with no alternative non-tolled routes available.
“While NatRoad welcomes the opening, there are too many questions still surrounding its operation for that to be a warm welcome. The adverse impacts that NorthConnex’s operational regime will have on road transport operators have not been addressed by the NSW Government, and therefore remain”, said Mr Clark.
NatRoad’s concerns include:
- That the use of NorthConnex is in practice compulsory for vehicles over 12.5 metres long or 2.8 metres high unless they have a local delivery along Pennant Hills Road, are carrying placarded dangerous goods, or are an oversize heavy vehicle with a permit;
- There are no practical free alternative routes that have been identified, and operators and drivers will have to find their own non-tolled route;
- How the management of the safety of livestock being transported through the tunnel will be addressed remains opaque;
- The fuel, food, and rest facilities along Pennant Hills Road will no longer be available to heavy vehicles forced through the tunnel; and
- The cost of using NorthConnex at $23.97 per trip will be a significant additional burden that many operators will not be able to recover or absorb. For example, a single truck doing two return trips a day, five days a week for 48 weeks a year will accumulate $23,011 in tolls. The new toll comes on top of the existing tolls already incurred by many across the Sydney road network. For some businesses, this extra imposition will put them under extreme financial pressure during a time when COVID-19 is already affecting their operations.
NatRoad will continue to pursue sensible change with the NSW Government on behalf of members and all affected operators.
NatRoad reminds members that trucks and buses (over 12.5m long or over 2.8m clearance height) travelling between the M1 and M2 must use the tunnel unless they have a genuine pick up or delivery destination only accessible via Pennant Hills Road, to avoid penalties.