Eastern Distributor

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Eastern Distributor Motorway
New South Wales
Eastern Distributor logo.PNG
Eastern Distributor tunnel.jpg
Southbound Eastern Distributor tunnel entrance at Woolloomooloo
General information
Type Motorway
Length 6 km (4 mi)
Opened 19 December 1999 (Completed in July 2000)
Route number(s)
  • M1
  • Entire Route
route number
  • Metroad 1 (1999-2013)
  • Entire Route
Major junctions
North end Cahill Expressway
Woollomooloo, Sydney
  William Street
Anzac Parade
South end Southern Cross Drive
Kensington, Sydney
Highway system
Highways in Australia
National HighwayFreeways in Australia
Highways in New South Wales

The Eastern Distributor is a 6-kilometre (4 mi) long motorway in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia owned by toll road operator Transurban. Part of the M1, it links the Sydney central business district (CBD) with the Airport. The centre-piece is a 1.7 km (1.1 mi) tunnel running from Woolloomooloo to Surry Hills.

The motorway is tolled in one direction (northbound) with the toll plazas at Woolloomooloo and at the William Street exit. As of January 2013, the toll for cars/motorbikes is $6.00 (including GST) and $12.00 (including GST) for other vehicles.[1] The toll will be removed in 2048 when the contract held by Airport Motorway Limited (AML) expires.[2][3]

This motorway is part of the 110-kilometre (68 mi) Sydney Orbital Network. For about half its length, it is in a trench inside South Dowling Street. The motorway provides a southbound exit for Lachlan Street/Dacey Avenue, a northbound exit for Cleveland Street, northbound entrance ramp from Cleveland Street and connections to William Street. There are also connection to the Cross City Tunnel, giving motorists direct connections under the city to the Western Distributor. There are also northbound/southbound entry/exits to Moore Park Road and Anzac Parade. Southbound motorists were later found to be entering the Eastern Distributor from the Cross City Tunnel access point and immediately attempting to cross three lanes for the Anzac Parade off-ramp. Permanent traffic obstacles are now in place to prevent this and users are now referred to the Lachlan Street/Dacey Avenue exit instead.


The need for an Eastern Distributor was first talked about in 1951. It was not until the election of the state Labor government in 1995, led by premier Bob Carr that the project was initiated.

At 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) in length, the Eastern Distributor was built to link the Sydney central business district with Sydney Airport via the already existing Southern Cross Drive (freeway).[4] It was designed to ease congestion and to reduce the time to travel from the city to the airport.[4] Construction involved 5,000 workers and was undertaken by Leighton Contractors for Airport Motorway Limited.[4] Privately built, the Eastern Distributor is also privately owned and operated by Transurban,[5] with state government planning, support and management during construction.[4] At a cost of A$730 million,[4] 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.[6] The term of private ownership is 48 years after which the road will revert to government ownership on 23 July 2048.[7]

Two separate tunnel subcontractors began excavating the northbound tunnel in January 1996, working at either of the tunnel—that is, Surry Hills and Woolloomooloo.[8] Seven roadheaders were utilised for the tunnel boring, with the rock ceiling then reinforced with rock bolts and shotcrete.[8] On 4 December 1998 the two teams were shaking hands in the middle–30 metres (100 ft) beneath Taylor Square. Actual construction started in August 1997 and by March 1999 all digging was complete, after 400,000 cubic metres (520,000 cu yd) of soil, largely Sydney Hawkesbury Sandstone was removed–equal to 40,000 truckloads.

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.[9] The unique double-deck, three lanes per direction design comprises a large, single tunnel excavation.[8] At mid-height through the excavation, a precast concrete ledge forms the base of the northbound tunnel, with the southbound tunnel slotting below.[8] As a result, only one tunnel roof was created with the lower southbound carriageway built in a slot.[8] According to the Australasian Tunnelling Society, no records are available of any piggyback tunnel (rail or road) where the upper carriageway has been carried on prestressed concrete planks resting on sidewall ledges.[8] In the main tunnel there is a central length of 0.5 kilometres (0.3 mi) where the span is typically greater than 17 metres (56 ft), and of note, there is no record of any road tunnel with spans greater than this where permanent roof support comprises rockbolts and shotcrete only and with vertical unsupported sidewalls of rock.[8] The tunnel's claim to fame at the time it was built was that at 24.5 metres (80 ft) across at its widest point, it was the widest tunnel in the world. This point occurs where the William Street on ramp tunnel merges with the main tunnel.[8] At 14 metres (46 ft), the tunnel is also notably large from the ceiling to the floor.[4]

The tunnels of the Eastern Distributor are equipped with the full range of services required in a modern road tunnel for the comfort and safety of the road user: lighting, ventilation, drainage, closed circuit television surveillance, fire fighting and emergency control systems.[8]

Exits and Interchanges[edit]

Eastern Distributor
Northbound exits Distance to
Sydney CBD
Distance to
Sydney Airport
Southbound exits
End Eastern Distributor
continues as Cahill Expressway
to Hornsby / Newcastle / Brisbane
-- 11 Start Eastern Distributor
from Cahill Expressway
TOLL PLAZA Eastern Distributor logo.PNG Cathedral Street
TUNNEL EXIT Paddington, Sydney CBD
William Street
Sydney CBD, Paddington
William Street
Sydney CBD, Parramatta
Cross City Tunnel
no exit 4.5 9.5 Randwick, La Perouse
Anzac Parade
Moore Park Road
START TOLL 6 8 To Lachlan Street via Waterloo
Dacey Avenue
South Dowling Street
To Cleveland Street via Surry Hills
South Dowling Street
Waterloo, Moore Park
South Dowling Street
8.5 5.5 no exit
Kensington, Zetland
Link Road
9 5 End Eastern Distributor
continues as Southern Cross Drive
to Wollongong / Canberra Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport
Start Eastern Distributor
continues from Southern Cross Drive

Toll History[edit]

This is a history of the toll charges:

Starting date Toll (cars including GST) Toll (other vehicles including GST)
1 July 2001 [10] $3.50 $7.50
27 April 2003 [10] $4.00 $7.50
1 January 2005[11] $4.00 $8.50
1 October 2005 [12] $4.50 $8.50[13]
1 April 2008 [14] $5.00 $9.50[15]
1 October 2008 [16] $5.00 $10.00
1 January 2011 $5.50 $11.00
1 July 2012 [17] $6.00 $12.00
1 January 2013 $6.00 $12.00
1 July 2014 $6.29 $12.58
1 October 2014 $6.36 $12.71

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Toll Prices". Eastern Distributor :: Tolls and payments. Airport Motorway Limited. Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  2. ^ Norrie, Justin; Baker, Jordan (4 September 2006). "How inequality rules Sydney's road network". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 October 2010. 
  3. ^ "Cahill Expressway/Eastern Distributor/Eastern Freeway: History and Development". Ozroads. Retrieved 9 October 2010. [self-published source]
  4. ^ a b c d e f Jewell, Chris; Merrick, Noel (2003). "Modelling of the groundwater impact of a sunken urban motorway in Sydney, Australia" (PDF). RMZ - Materials and Geoenvironment 50 (1): 229. Archived from the original on 2012-07-08. 
  5. ^ "Transurban turnover rises as traffic grows". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). 2012-01-12. Archived from the original on 2012-07-08. 
  6. ^ "Eastern Distributor Construction Homes Damage". Parliament of New South Wales. 2001-09-11. Archived from the original on 2012-07-08. 
  7. ^ "Eastern Distributor". Roads and Maritime Services. 2001-09-11. Archived from the original on 2012-07-08. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Eastern Distributor, Sydney". Australasian Tunnelling Society. Archived from the original on 2012-07-08. 
  9. ^ Lai, Steven; Wong, Dee; Wu, Dicken (2009-04-09). "Fire and life safety designs for road tunnels in Asia". Fire Division, Hong Kong Institution of Engineers. pp. 23–24. Archived from the original on 2012-07-08. 
  10. ^ a b "Eastern Distributor toll to rise". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  11. ^ MIG Annual Report 2005. Macquarie Infrastructure Group. 2005.
  12. ^ "Twin tolls to increase on Sydney roads". The Sydney Morning Herald. 9 September 2005. Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  13. ^ Lam, Kitty. Operation of Toll Roads, Bridges and Tunnels in Selected Places (RP03/05-06). Research and Library Services Division, Legislative Council Secretariat. Hong Kong. Ch.6.2.6, Pg.40. 2006.
  14. ^ "Eastern Distributor toll hits $5". Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  15. ^ Eastern Distributor: Tolling - Tolls on the ED. EasterDistributor.com. Archived April 30, 2008.
  16. ^ Li, Zheng and David A. Hensher. "Toll Roads in Australia: An Overview of Characteristics and Accuracy of Demand Forecasts." Transport Reviews: A Transnational Transdisciplinary Journal. Vol.30, Issue 5. Pg.548. September 2010.
  17. ^ "Eastern Distributor Toll Indexation Media Release". Retrieved 19 January 2013. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°54′28″S 151°12′48″E / 33.90775°S 151.21342°E / -33.90775; 151.21342