Light Horse Interchange
|Light Horse Interchange
New South Wales
|Approaching the Light Horse Interchange on the M4 Western Motorway|
|Junction type||Modified four-level stack interchange|
|Maximum height||23 m (75 ft)|
|Built by||Leighton Holdings, Abigroup|
|Maintained by||Roads and Maritime Services|
|Roads at junction|
The Light Horse Interchange is a motorway interchange located in Eastern Creek, New South Wales, Australia at the junction of the M4 Western Motorway and the Westlink M7. The interchange is the largest in the southern hemisphere and was opened to traffic in December 2005. The interchange was named in honour of the Australian Light Horse Brigades of World War I, who trained nearby at the former Wallgrove Army camp prior to deploying on operations abroad.
Design and construction
In response to a population boom in Sydney's western suburbs, the New South Wales Government's Sydney Orbital Roads Strategy identified the need for a limited access north-south link. The Westlink M7 project would connect the three existing east-west motorways: the M5 South Western Motorway, the M4 Western Motorway and the M2 Hills Motorway catering for up to 60,000 vehicles per day and providing faster routes to the Sydney CBD. Following a request for tender in 2001, a joint venture between engineering firms Leighton Holdings and Abigroup were awarded the contract in 2003 to design and construct the motorway and interchanges, including Australia's first complete four-level stack interchange.
Construction of the Light Horse Interchange began in 2003 at the site of the existing M4 Wallgrove Road exit. The new motorway overpass consisted of two spans, 431 m (1,414 ft) and 397 m (1,302 ft) carrying the main carriageways of the M7 over the existing M4. 802 individual bridge segments were used to create the main spans, 8 connecting ramps and a separate bridge carrying a shared pedestrian and cycle path. The Wallgrove Road M4 overpass was retained, with new ramp flyovers reaching a height of 16 m (52 ft) above the existing roadway and ramps. Due to the complexity of the interchange no access to the M7 was provided.
During the construction phase between 2003 to 2005, both the M4 Western Motorway and Wallgrove Road continued to carry traffic as normal. This required the use of balanced cantilever construction methods to position pre-cast concrete bridge segments at heights of up to 23 m (75 ft) above the active motorway. Upon completion, electronic tolling was implemented for vehicles entering the Westlink M7, allowing continuous flow of traffic.
As a major feature of Sydney's road network, the Light Horse Interchange features unique landscaping and lighting. A 55 m (180 ft) steel lighting tower was installed in the centre of the interchange, designed to be visible to motorists up to 2 km (1.2 mi) away, as well as the more practical function of lighting the interchange. The tower, resembling a torch, serves as the centrepiece of the Light Horse Sculpture Parade, designed with the support of the Returned and Services League of Australia. The median strip of both the M4 and M7 motorways approaching the interchange are lined with markers which represent the Light Horse on parade. Each marker is painted red to symbolise the Flanders poppy, as well as the blood of supreme sacrifice. Wire plumages atop the markers represent the emu feathers worn in the slouch hats of members of the regiment. This symbol was chosen in place of a horse as a mark of respect, as Quarantine laws prevented the horses from returning to Australia after combat.
- "Westlink M7 Motorway". Abigroup. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
- "M7 corridor". NSW Roads and Maritime Services. Retrieved 24 April 2013.
- "Fact Sheet - Light Horse Interchange". Westlink Motorway Limited. May 2006.
- "Australian Construction Achievement Award 2007 Conference Paper". Australian Construction Achievement Award. 4 May 2007.
- Goodsir, Darren (13 August 2005). "Cars to shoot over spaghetti western". The Sydney Morning Herald.
- "Light Horse Sculpture Parade". Westlink Motorway Limited. 2008.