NSW Premier and Minister for Western Sydney Barry O'Farrell and Minister for Roads Duncan Gay today announced the M5 West widening project would begin next year saving motorists up to an hour a week in travel times.
The NSW Government and the motorway operators Interlink Roads have reached an in-principle agreement which will avoid any increase in the car toll to fund the project.
The $400 million widening project will be funded by Interlink Roads with the NSW Government extending the M5 concession by 3.3 years – less than the four years suggested when the project was promised by the NSW Liberals & Nationals during the election.
The NSW Government will provide $50 million in funding for noise abatement measures to address community concerns.
The project involves widening 21km of the M5 West motorway all the way from Camden Valley Way at Prestons to King Georges Road at Beverly Hills with an additional lane in both directions.
"This is fantastic news for long-suffering Western Sydney motorists, great value for taxpayers, and yet more proof the NSW Government is getting on with the job of fixing this city's transport problems," Mr O'Farrell said.
"Along with the South West and North West Rail Links, this M5 widening is good news for Western Sydney residents.
"This is another election commitment honoured and adds to the NSW Government's delivery of major infrastructure projects including:
"The M5 West widening will save the 90,000 motorists who use the road each day up to an hour a week, while its construction will support up to 500 jobs," he said.
"The M5 is one of Sydney's busiest road corridors and the widening will benefit motorists and freight operators travelling the full length of the motorway as well as those making shorter trips.
"This major infrastructure project for Western Sydney is a win for motorists and a win for the State's economy," he said.
Mr Gay said work is expected to start in mid-2012, after the necessary design work, construction approvals, contract and finance arrangements have been finalised.
Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2014, weather permitting.
"More than half of motorists travelling eastbound on the M5 leave the motorway before the start of the M5 East so this project will provide real benefits for tens of thousands of motorists," Mr Gay said.
"The project also includes 22 new electronic message signs on the motorway and at critical intersections to provide better information for motorists," he said.
"There will be no increase in car tolls to fund the project. Truck tolls will be lifted from 2.25 times to three times the value of car tolls. This will be phased in across two years following completion of the widening.
"In line with our election commitment, the current Cashback scheme will be retained.
"After listening to community concerns, the NSW Government will contribute around $50 million which is predominately towards the cost of noise walls and other noise mitigation measures.
"The upgrade will include replacement of the entire road surface which will provide motorists with a smoother and quieter ride.
"While construction is underway, it is not expected to have any impact on public transport routes.
"Planning approval was granted in November 2011 and includes a number of conditions of approval for the project following a thorough environmental assessment.
"Significantly, the number of noise walls has been increased. Other conditions will help address a range of environmental concerns during the widening work and after its completion, such as biodiversity and water issues," Mr Gay said.