Great Western Highway Upgrade Program

The NSW Government has committed $2.5 billion to upgrade the Great Western Highway between Katoomba and Lithgow. As part of that upgrade, it is proposed to build a tunnel under Blackheath to remove heavy traffic, improve safety, and give the Great Western Highway through Blackheath back to the community.

Project update: The proposed outer bypass option through Centennial Glen, and the proposed inner bypass next to the rail line on Station Street, have both been removed as potential routes for the Great Western Highway Upgrade Program.

In November and December 2019, Transport for NSW consulted with the community about the Great Western Highway upgrade between Katoomba and Lithgow.

The route in Blackheath had not been determined and a strategic area with four broad options was presented, represented by a shaded area over the western side of Blackheath.

The strategic area included four broad options:

  • An outer bypass with bridges crossing over Shipley Road, Centennial Pass, Porters Pass Track, and over the rail line at the north
  • A bypass running next to the rail line either at ground level or in a cut and-cover tunnel
  • Duplication of the existing highway in the town centre of Blackheath
  • Long or short tunnels underneath Blackheath.

Options to the east of Blackheath were ruled out due to likely impact on the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

We committed to coming back as soon as possible to remove the strategic area and give you more certainty on the possible route through Blackheath.

Now that we have finished the Blackheath Co-Design process, we can present a strategic design for a route in Blackheath.

A long tunnel was the preferred option of the Blackheath Co-Design Committee. Transport for NSW is also seeking community feedback on one shorter tunnel portal option.

A tunnel bypass of Blackheath will improve safety and congestion through the town centre. While a tunnel option has been selected as the preferred approach for the Highway upgrade, Transport for NSW will continue to investigate ways to improve intersection performance, safety and connectivity on the existing highway alignment, which will complement the $250 million Safety Upgrade program which was completed this year. Community input and the further development of the Strategic Business Case will guide the development of any further work on this route.

Benefits of a tunnel for Blackheath