M2 Hills Motorway

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M2 Hills Motorway
New South Wales
Australian motorway HILLS M2.jpg   
(1)M2 Motorway.jpg
Toll gantries at Macquarie Park
General information
Type Motorway
Length 21.4 km (13 mi)
Opened 1993
(Completed on 26 May 1997)
Route number(s)
  • M2 (2013–present)
route number
  • Metroad 2 (1997–2013)
Major junctions
East end
West end
Major suburbs / towns Epping
Baulkham Hills
Highway system
Highways in Australia
National HighwayFreeways in Australia
Highways in New South Wales

The M2 Hills Motorway (also known as the Hills M2 Motorway, M2 Motorway or simply M2) is a tollway in north-western Sydney, Australia, owned by toll road operator Transurban. It forms part of Sydney's M2 route and the 110 km Sydney Orbital Network. West of Pennant Hills Road, the M2 is also part of the National Highway.


The M2 Hills Motorway connects directly with the Lane Cove Tunnel at the Lane Cove River in North Ryde and heads north-west through Macquarie Park to Epping, then West through Beecroft, Carlingford then through Baulkham Hills and Winston Hills onto the Westlink M7 motorway at Seven Hills.


The M2 uses a cashless tolling system, where tolls are charged on the basis of vehicles being either Class 2 (which includes most private vehicles) or Class 4 (vehicles with two axles and are over 2.8 metres high, or vehicles with three axles which are over 2 metres high, or vehicles with more than three axles). The current maximum toll payable is $6.42 for Class 2 vehicles and $19.25 for Class 4 vehicles.


Aborted early plans[edit]

Road approaches from Sydney's western suburbs were originally slow and traffic passed through Parramatta and to the city centre via Victoria Road and Western Freeway.

Plans for an ambitious set of freeways for Sydney were originally drawn up in 1942 which included a link to the Gladesville Bridge and then on to Anzac Bridge via a new set of elevated freeways behind Drummoyne.

Proposals for a North West Freeway (later known as the F2/Castlereagh Freeway) which followed the route of the current M2 from Epping Road to Seven Hills were released in 1962 and included in the 1964 UBD street directory. Protests in 1974 led to suspension of works and cancellation in 1977, along with the Lane Cove Valley Expressway which would have intersected with the North West Freeway at the junction of Epping and Pittwater Road.[1] An 'F1 Freeway' (Warringah Freeway) which was intended to link to the Northern Beaches, via Roseville Bridge, and not to the Hills district was also cancelled. The Gore Hill Freeway and Lane Cove Tunnel were not part of this original plan.

Parramatta was bypassed in 1986, however peak hour traffic still clogged up Victoria Road and all western approaches to Sydney.

Land for the F2 freeway was purchased by NSW Government in 1988 and the road from Gladesville Bridge to Hunters Hill was built to freeway-style standards. However, a Commission of Inquiry for Environment and Planning set up in July 1990 and chaired by John Woodward, then recommended stage 1 of the project (from Pennant Hills Rd, Beecroft, and Epping Road at Ryde) should not be built.

Planning and construction[edit]

The M2 Hills Motorway was developed to connect Old Windsor Road, Seven Hills to Epping Road, North Ryde, bypassing the inner western suburbs linking with the Gore Hill Freeway at Artarmon which leads to the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney central business district.

The NSW Government conducted an environmental impact assessment on the options available, and in May 1993 announced that the road would be constructed with private funds using a Build Own Operate Transfer. The Government then entered into an agreement with Hills Motorway Limited to build and operate the M2 for 45 years, before ownership will revert to the government. The motorway pioneered the use of electronic tolling in Australia.[citation needed]

The road included a two lane busway between Windsor Road to Beecroft Road with a connection to Epping Train Station. There was dedicated access ramps for buses, which was removed in 2012 during road works to widen the motorway.[2]


There was strong community opposition to the construction of the motorway by local residents and environment groups including the Nature Conservation Council, as the route would destroy a vast area of valuable urban bushland, the money would be better spent on public transport infrastructure and the air pollution from private motor vehicles would contribute to global warming. There were also fears the bus lanes might be removed in the future to provide additional capacity for private vehicles. "Freeway Busters" was one of the groups that organised protests, including two "Cyclestormings" of the construction site by hundreds of cyclists. The opening ceremony of the tollway in 1997, a champagne breakfast for conservative dignitaries including Alan Jones and a "celebrity drive-through" featuring swimmer Susie Maroney, was disrupted by sound systems mounted high in gum trees, playing the sound of car crashes, ambulance sirens and jack-hammers. After the motorway opened, cyclists also protested the toll which the operators charged cyclists by occupying the toll plaza. This protest was successful and the toll was subsequently dropped.


The motorway opened on 26 May 1997 by Sandra Schaap.[3] It was acquired by Transurban in 2006 after a successful takeover bid. Transurban then acquired Tollaust, which managed the tolls for the road, in January 2006.[2]

The Westlink M7, which links the M2 Hills Motorway at Seven Hills), opened on 16 December 2005 and runs to the M5 South Western Motorway at Prestons. The Lane Cove Tunnel, which linked the M2 at Lane Cove, opened on 25 March 2007. It carries about 50,000 vehicles per day on the Sydney Orbital Network.[citation needed]

A third traffic lane westbound between the Lane Cove Road and Beecroft Road interchanges which utilises a former cycling/breakdown lane opened in April 2007. This change was criticised by cyclists, who were required to use an alternative route as a result, and by some motorists who have said that the addition of a third lane will induce more traffic and would only shift the bottleneck further down the motorway as a result of assisting and maintaining free-flowing traffic from the Lane Cove Tunnel.[citation needed] A speed camera to enforce the 70 km/h limit was introduced on the westbound carriageway just before the Epping/Norfolk Road tunnel.[when?]

Tolling became fully cashless with no toll booths 30 January 2012[4][5] (Transurban had originally proposed that it would cashless from December 2007[6]).

A major upgrade started in January 2011 with more exit and entrance ramps being built, including exit ramps onto Windsor Road eastbound, which was completed in July 2012,[7] and the new exit ramps onto Macquarie Park westbound which was completed in January 2013.[8][9] During the upgrade the fixed speed camera installed before the Epping/Norfolk Road tunnel was removed in mid 2013, and by November 2014 the speed limit was lifted to 100 km/h limit along the length of the M2.

Proposed developments[edit]

On 16 March 2014, the preferred contractor for construction of the NorthConnex link was announced.[10] It will be a pair of tunnels connecting the M2 Motorway near the Pennant Hills Road interchange to the M1 Pacific Motorway (also known as the F3) north of Pearce's Corner, Wahroonga.[11] This will form another part of a motorway-standard Sydney Bypass has been intended as part of the National Highway system for decades.

After initially refusing to include the construction of east-facing ramps to Lane Cove Road as a part of the M2 Upgrade Project, Transurban and the NSW Government reached agreement to construct a new on-ramp in February 2013. The construction is expected to commence in August 2013 and be complete around a year later. The upgrade will allow south-bound traffic from Lane Cove Road to enter the M2 motorway towards Sydney, eliminating the need to travel through the busy Macquarie Park area to enter the motorway from the Epping Road or Macquarie Park on-ramps. However the upgrade will not allow northbound traffic from Lane Cove Road to enter the motorway eastbound, nor will it include off-ramps from the M2 Motorway to Lane Cove Road.[12]


Hills Motorway
Westbound exits Distance to
Distance to
Eastbound exits
End Hills Motorway
continues as WestLink
to Lithgow, Canberra and Melbourne
24 32 Start Hills Motorway
from WestLink
Rouse Hill, Windsor
Old Windsor Road
Abbott Road
Parramatta, Baulkham Hills
Windsor Road
27 29 Parramatta, Baulkham Hills
Windsor Road
Castle Hill, Hornsby,

Parramatta, Canberra and Melbourne
Pennant Hills Road (Cumberland Highway)

32 24 To via Hornsby, Newcastle, Parramatta, Carlingford, Canberra and Melbourne
Pennant Hills Road (Cumberland Highway)
Epping, Beecroft
Beecroft Road
34 22 no exit
Macquarie Park
Talavera Road
39 17 Macquarie Park
Christie Road
no exit 40 16 Pymble, Ryde
Lane Cove Road
no exit 41 15 Chatswood, Ryde
Delhi Road
Ryde, Epping
Epping Road
42 14 End Hills Motorway
continues as Lane Cove Tunnel
to Sydney
Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport
Start Hills Motorway
continues from Lane Cove Tunnel

See also[edit]


External links[edit]