The Pacific Motorway/Highway is one of the most heavily used road corridors for freight in New South Wales. The highway is critical to the transport of freight between Sydney and Brisbane.
The section of the corridor between Black Hill and Raymond Terrace is also part of a strategic junction where the north–south traffic flows between Sydney and Brisbane cross the east–west traffic flows between Newcastle, including the Port of Newcastle, and the Hunter, New England and Central West and Orana regions.
Between John Renshaw Drive and Raymond Terrace, the highway is at arterial road standard with at-grade intersections, hindering the free flow of freight and commuter traffic.
Traffic speed during the morning peak is estimated to be 60 km/h by 2021, dropping to 23–39 km/h by 2031. In 2016, an average 22,000 vehicles used the route during the afternoon peak. This is expected to increase by 36% by 2031. The major growth drivers are the planned industrial developments at Black Hill, Tomago Road and Weakleys Drive. It is estimated that road network improvements could increase travel speed by around 20 km/h.
The current road network does not adequately cater for High Productivity Vehicles. Heavy vehicles travelling to and from Tomago industrial area and the Port of Newcastle are required to undertake contra-flow movements during the night. The use of High Productivity Vehicles to transport freight is estimated to generate significant productivity benefits.
It is estimated that these vehicles could perform the freight task with up to 37% fewer trucks and vehicle kilometres travelled compared to other vehicles.
The initiative proposes to upgrade the Pacific Highway between John Renshaw Drive and Raymond Terrace to motorway standard. The improved road standard and bypasses of Hexham and Heatherbrae would lead to productivity benefits from faster freight movements north–south in the Sydney-Brisbane corridor, and for intersecting east–west traffic flows between Newcastle, including the Port of Newcastle, and the Hunter, New England and Central West and Orana regions.
Proponent to complete business case development (Stage 3 of Infrastructure Australia’s Assessment Framework).