Sydney's newest motorway, the M8 tunnel, has opened and will shave up to 30 minutes off a commute from Liverpool to the city's south.
The new tunnels largely run alongside the existing M5 East tunnel and link Kingsgrove with St Peters. The M8 will provide a quicker journey between areas including the CBD, Sydney Airport, Port Botany and city's south-western suburbs.
A heavy toll?
The faster commute will come at a cost — the new M8 has a flat toll of $6.95 for cars and $20.86 for heavy vehicles one way. The existing M5 East will also have a distance based toll for the first time, capped at the same toll as the M8.
Drivers can use the toll free alternative along Stony Creek Road and Forest Road, which has had new clearways implemented. Despite this, the NRMA believes the State Government should adopt a one month toll grace period, that enables drivers to test the road and is in line with the findings of the 2005 Richmond Review.
Large recreational vehicles including caravans, boats and horse floats that are towed on all of Sydney’s toll roads will be able to qualify for a recently announced cashback scheme which the NRMA called for.
What's the road like?
The existing M5 East has long been a chronically congested road, and the M8 tunnel is intended to reduce congestion across the road network. It’s expected to take less than 10 minutes to travel between St Peters and Kingsgrove. There are two lanes in each direction with room for a third in the future.
The motorway itself is 5.1 metres tall, which is significantly taller than the average 4.2 metres for other tunnels, in order to service the evolvement of freight. In a nod to the environment, the tunnel features 7400 LED lights. An 80km/h speed limit is in place in main-line areas and 60km/h on ramps. There are speed cameras around the tunnel, so be mindful of your speed. You can see a full interactive map on the Westconnex website.
The NRMA is calling on drivers to be vigilant when driving around the interchange and portal locations as there may be some confusion while drivers get used to the new road. If a driver finds themselves in the wrong lane, under no circumstances should they stop and reverse on the motorway.
The M8 forms the second of three significant pieces of the WestConnex project. The M4 East link opened last year that involved extending the M4 from Homebush into Haberfield and Ashfield. Eventually, the new M8 will be linked to the M4 East via a network of tunnels under Sydney’s inner-west.
The NorthConnex (M2 to M1 link under Pennant Hills Road) is the next major infrastructure project to open within a couple of months.