Second Sydney Harbour tunnel added to the Priority List as Infrastructure Australia streamlines project advice

Publication Date
07 May 2021

The New South Wales Government’s proposal for a second Sydney Harbour tunnel to ease congestion on one of the city’s busiest growth corridors has been deemed a national priority by Infrastructure Australia.

The nation’s independent infrastructure advisor has today added the Western Harbour Tunnel and Warringah Freeway Upgrade to the Infrastructure Priority List as a Priority Project.

The proposal involves constructing a 6.5 kilometre twin three-lane motorway from the Rozelle Interchange to the Warringah Freeway near North Sydney. It also includes an upgrade of the Warringah Freeway between the northern end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Willoughby Road.

Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive Romilly Madew said: “The Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Harbour Tunnel are critical transport links – carrying more than 250,000 vehicles each weekday as people travel into the CBD and through to other parts of the city. By 2031, this is expected to increase to 300,000 as Sydney’s population grows.

“Without an additional harbour crossing, we expect there to be additional traffic and delays around the Sydney CBD. Apart from impacting community access to school, work and other essential services, our 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit found that if not addressed, congestion on this part of the road network could cost the NSW economy more than $780,000 per day by 2031.

“The business case developed by the NSW Government demonstrates a wide range of benefits for both drivers and public transport users, including significant travel time savings and improvements in travel time reliability.

“By adding the Western Harbour Tunnel and Warringah Freeway Upgrade to the Priority List, Infrastructure Australia is highlighting the strong community and economic benefits of this proposal and putting it forward as a nationally significant investment opportunity for government to consider,” Ms Madew said. 

A new approach to the Infrastructure Priority List

Infrastructure Australia’s role is to advise on national infrastructure priorities, assess the social, economic and strategic merits of proposals and support best practice business case development. To ensure the Priority List remains fit for purpose and provides clear and easy to understand advice, Infrastructure Australia has recently implemented some enhancements.

From April 2021, only proposals that are yet to receive funding from the Australian Government are considered for inclusion on the Priority List. This change is designed to ensure that the Priority List provides a clearly defined pipeline of investment-ready proposals.

Infrastructure Australia will continue to review business cases where a funding commitment of $250 million or more has been made by the Australian Government.

However, the evaluation of funded proposals will focus on identifying delivery risks and opportunities to realise project benefits.

In line with this approach, Infrastructure Australia is today also publishing its independent evaluation of the business cases for the following two Australian Government funded proposals: Newcastle Inner City Bypass (NSW) and Rockhampton Ring Road (QLD).

All business case evaluation summaries can be found on the Infrastructure Australia website.

Media Contacts: Elizabeth Kelleher-Cook 0428 163 090,