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New South Wales
NorthConnex Logo.png
General information
Type Motorway  (Under construction)
Length 9 km (5.6 mi)
Opened 2019 (expected)
Major junctions
North end
South end
Major suburbs / towns Wahroonga, Normanhurst, Thornleigh, Pennant Hills
Highway system

NorthConnex is a 9-kilometre (5.6 mi) motorway tunnel under construction in northern Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. When completed in 2019, it will connect the M1 Pacific Motorway to the M2 Hills Motorway. It was previously known as the F3 to M2 link, then the M1 to M2 link after alpha numeric route numbers began to be used in New South Wales. The road has also colloquially been referred to as the "missing link", because its construction will complete the combination of the Sydney Orbital Network and its north-south motorway links to the National Highway[1].

The link between the M1 and M2 is recognised in the NSW Government's State Infrastructure Strategy and the Transport for NSW Long Term Transport Master Plan as important infrastructure for freight traffic and the wider connectivity within NSW to reduce congestion and improve traffic flow along Pennant Hills Road.[2]


The M1 Pacific Motorway was originally planned to continue as the Lane Cove Valley Expressway, which was to join the North Western Expressway, leading to the Sydney Central Business District via Gladesville Bridge and the Western Distributor, but those plans were cancelled in 1977. By the time the M1 Pacific Motorway was extended to Wahroonga in 1989, there was no plan for a motorway route continuing beyond that location.

In 2001, at the same time as announcing commencement of the M7, the Federal Government proposed that the M7 would form part of a bypass route, with a new road branching off the M1 Pacific Motorway near Mount White and crossing the Hawkesbury River with a new high-level bridge to join the M7 at its distinct northwestern corner at Dean Park. Hence, the road would avoid the steep grades of the Mount White section of the Pacific Motorway immediately north of the existing low-level bridges across the Hawkesbury River and would be a quite direct bypass of Sydney that would be separated from much of Sydney's commuter traffic.

A study was undertaken into options for connecting the Pacific Motorway with the M7.[3] At the preliminary stage of that study, the then Roads and Traffic Authority decided that the primary goal of the new road was the best possible relief of traffic on the existing route, Pennant Hills Road. Corridors for that proposal were broadly defined as types A, B and C.

  • Type A options were essentially from the existing end of the M1 to somewhere on the M2.
  • Type B corridors branched off the M1 in the vicinity of Berowra and crossed the environmentally sensitive Galston Gorge.
  • Type C corridors were along the general lines of the Federal Government proposal.

The need to reduce traffic on Pennant Hills Road made the reduction of commuter traffic more urgent than that of traffic bypassing Sydney. As such, type B and C options were rejected early in the planning process.

Four type A options were identified. All involved extensive tunnelling. One of these, following the Hornsby - Epping railway line near the M1 and underneath Pennant Hills Road towards the M2, was selected as the preferred option.

On 17 February 2007, The Hon. Jim Lloyd MP (the federal Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads) announced the establishment of an independent review of the F3 to M7 Corridor Selection.[4] The review was carried out by The Hon. Mahla Pearlman AO, who is a former Chief Judge of the NSW Land and Environment Court. The report was released on 14 September 2007. The conclusions of the report were that the proposed tunnels should proceed but that planning for the longer term connection between the Pacific Motorway and the M7 should also commence immediately.[5]

Plans to construct the M1 to M2 link tunnels were announced in 2013.[6] Selection of the preferred construction contractor was announced on 16 March 2014, along with the new name - NorthConnex.[7]


In 2013, The National Roads and Motorists' Association (NRMA) identified the arterial, Pennant Hills Road as the third worst road in NSW and the ACT. This rating reflected the level of frustration experienced by road users.[8] Traffic congestion is often associated with poor road safety and further compounding congestion into off-peak period. The rate of accidents along the arterial strip was significantly higher when compared to the NSW average.[9] The aim of NorthConnex is to provide a safe, reliable motorway alternative for traffic reducing congestion and the frequency of accidents.

Pennant Hills Road currently[when?] carries approximately 80,000 vehicles per day of which more than 10,000 are trucks. The proposed two lane tunnel can carry more than 100,000 vehicles per day (50,000 in each direction).[8]


NorthConnex will be a tolled motorway tunnel linking the M1 Pacific Motorway at Wahroonga to the M2 Hills Motorway at West Pennant Hills. NorthConnex will be integrated within the existing Sydney Orbital Network and the need for integration work at either end has been identified to enable the safe merge of traffic on and off the M1 and M2 optimising motorway performance. The northern and southern interchanges will be constructed to accommodate connections to Pennant Hills Road at either end of the tunnel.


Approval for the construction and operation of NorthConnex was granted in January 2015 by the NSW Minister of Planning.[10] Australian motorway operator, Transurban and its partners in the Westlink M7 were awarded the contract to build, maintain and operate NorthConnex.

Preliminary work activities started on 5 February 2015 and continued until major construction began in mid-2015. Geotechnical investigations are taking place at a number of locations along the project corridor. Most locations are within the road alignment or on publicly owned land.


The A$billion, consisting of a construction budget of A$2.65 billion in addition to land and project delivery costs, will be funded through toll charges and a contribution from the NSW and Australian Governments of up to A$405 million each.[11]

It is expected that toll charges will be aligned to that of the M2, which are currently[when?] A$6.41 for cars and A$19.25 for trucks. Toll prices would increase in line with the proposed concession agreement with the Government, ending in 2048.


There was community opposition and criticism to a proposed smokestack to be built for the tunnels near schools in Sydney.[12]

There is also some contention within the local community about how successful the chosen route option will be in easing traffic congestion on Pennant Hills Road.[13] Ku-ring-gai Council has also raised a significant concern that the current proposal does not address the worsening traffic on the Pacific Highway from Wahroonga through to the Gore Hill Freeway at Artarmon.[14] To help address this, construction of east-facing tunnel ramps under Pennant Hills Golf Course to the M2 Motorway may be considered in the future if required.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Smith, Rohan. "Wahroonga homes to go to make way for M1-M2 motorway link NorthConnex". The Daily Telegraph. News Corp Australia. 
  2. ^ "NorthConnex". NorthConnex - About. Retrieved 28 April 2015. 
  3. ^ "F3 to Sydney Orbital route study". Archived from the original on 23 October 2006. 
  4. ^ "Review of the F3 to M7 Corridor Selection". 
  5. ^ "Review of the F3 to M7 Corridor Selection" (PDF). Department of Transport and Regional Services. Australian Government. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 September 2007. 
  6. ^ "M1-M2 Community Update" (PDF). Roads & Maritime Services. December 2013. 
  7. ^ "Transurban announces preferred contractor for NorthConnex" (PDF). Transurban. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 March 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "Seeing Red on Roads". The National Roads and Motorists' Association. 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2015. 
  9. ^ "Why NorthConnex". NorthConnex. Retrieved 28 April 2015. 
  10. ^ "NSW Minister for Planning Approval" (PDF). NorthConnex. 
  11. ^ "NorthConnex tunnel: Tony Abbott and Barry O'Farrell give go-ahead to $3b project to link M1 and M2 in Sydney". ABC News. Australia. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  12. ^ Smith, Rohan (9 April 2014). "Wahroonga residents form Community Against Polluting Stacks to protest M1-M2 exhaust stack near prestigious schools". Retrieved 25 May 2014. 
  13. ^ Blight, Tim. "Why Sydney's NorthConnex Motorway won't work". Retrieved 3 May 2014. 
  14. ^ NorthConnex Submissions and Preferred Infrastructure Report (Volume 2) (PDF). RMS. November 2014. pp. 714–715. ISBN 978-1-925093-99-5. 
  15. ^ "NorthConnex Project Development and Alternatives (Section 4.3.2)" (PDF). 

External links[edit]