The $3 billion NorthConnex project reached financial close in January 2015 and received the final environmental approvals to begin major works in June 2015.
Work has begun to build the nine-kilometre twin tunnel motorway undertaken by a Lend Lease and Bouygues joint venture. NorthConnex is scheduled for completion in late 2019.
When completed, NorthConnex is likely to provide significant economic benefits to New South Wales as it provides a ‘missing link’ between the M1 Pacific Motorway and the Hills M2 Motorway. It will have major benefits for the freight industry, allowing trucks to bypass up to 21 traffic lights along their journey. It will also remove approximately 5,000 trucks a day from Pennant Hills Road, which is estimated to make it up to five times safer for motorists and the local community.
The project is the result of an unsolicited proposal from Transurban to the New South Wales Government and is an example of our commitment to taking a sustainable approach to the development of new projects. The tunnel will have a flatter gradient, be wider to accommodate additional lanes and higher than other similar tunnels in Sydney. This will improve road safety, reduce electricity required for ventilation, and improve general air quality. As a result of this design, as well as the lack of congestion and fewer traffic lights, trucks using the NorthConnex tunnel will generate up to 80 per cent lower emissions, compared with the current Pennant Hills Road route.
Of the project, Federal Assistant Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs said, “This is an historic day for New South Wales and creates a new national freight route supporting thousands of jobs and will inject around $4 billion dollars into the New South Wales and national economies.”
NorthConnex provides an example of the private sector partnering with the government to ensure the best possible outcomes for taxpayers and road users.
Sustainability targets have been set for the planning, design, construction and operation of NorthConnex. Transurban makes use of the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA) rating scheme, an industry-compiled voluntary sustainability performance rating scheme.
This rating scheme allows organisations to identify and benchmark a range of initiatives to improve the environmental and social outcomes of infrastructure development. These include measures for governance, resource use, ecology, stakeholder engagement and innovation. For NorthConnex, Transurban and its project partners are targeting an ISCA ‘Excellent’ rating.
As an additional community benefit of the project, we are proposing to use the spoil from the tunnel to partially fill the nearby disused Hornsby Quarry. Subject to approval, this would enable the Hornsby Shire Council to enact its long term plan to turn the quarry into a permanent, open space for the community.
The quarry covers approximately 35 hectares and was in operation from the early 1900s until the late 1990s before being acquired by the Council. Whilst the site is zoned for public recreation, large areas are currently unusable surrounding the unstable, water-filled quarry void.
Transurban’s plan involves taking up to 1.5 million cubic metres of spoil from the NorthConnex tunnel and re-using it to support the Council's plan to rehabilitate the quarry. Being in close proximity, another benefit is reducing the transportation distance of the spoil by around 3.7 million kilometres compared to previously identified sources of fill material. This will lessen traffic on the local road network and minimise congestion and transport emissions.
Subject to planning approval, the quarry site could start receiving spoil as early as January 2016. Work at the site could be completed in mid-2018, allowing the Council to implement its re-development plans.
In April 2015, the Victorian Government announced it would progress our proposal for the Western Distributor – a project to address some of Melbourne’s most critical traffic, growth and liveability challenges.
The proposal we submitted to government incorporates the delivery of three key sections:
While the Victorian Government examines and assesses our proposal, we have started a conversation with stakeholders and communities to understand what factors are important in the design of the Western Distributor. This feedback is being reviewed, analysed and considered as we further develop our proposal. There will also be more opportunities for the community to be involved in the discussion.
Detailed information about the Western Distributor proposal can be found on our community consultation website here.
On 14 December 2014, the 95 Express Lanes were opened to the public, following more than two years in construction. A two-week trial period was provided for customers before tolling commenced on 29 December.
The completion of the 95 Express Lanes project is a significant development in our network of managed lanes in Northern Virginia that alleviates congestion and provides motorists with an alternative offering more reliable travel times in this critical road corridor.
The 95 Express Lanes project was delivered ahead of schedule and budget, and importantly, with a strong safety record, evidenced by 4.2 million construction work hours without a lost time injury—the entire length of the construction phase.
The 95 Express Lanes is a reversible system, pointing north toward Washington D.C. in the morning rush hour and then reversing to serve southbound traffic in the evenings. This is an innovative way to make the most efficient use of the roadway during morning and evening peak hours.
The 95 Express Lanes integrate seamlessly into the 495 Express Lanes on the Beltway – marking the opening of Transurban’s first integrated network of toll roads in Northern Virginia.
The opening event was attended by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and a crowd of more than 350 elected officials, community and business leaders.
As part of Transurban’s comprehensive education and marketing campaign in the lead-up to the opening, local news was engaged to help ensure drivers understood the reversible lanes and road rules on I-95
Transurban achieved another milestone on 30 June 2015 as we announced our acquisition of the remaining equity interest in the co-investment vehicle, DRIVe, which holds investments in both the 95 Express Lanes and 495 Express Lanes in Northern Virginia, USA.
As a result of the acquisition, our equity interest has increased to 100 per cent in both the 95 Express Lanes and 495 Express Lanes, from 77.5 per cent and 94 per cent respectively. Owning 100 percent of both assets gives us additional optionality and provides a base for us to consider further enhancement and development opportunities on that network and more broadly in the years ahead.
Another milestone in our Queensland market in FY15 was the opening of the Legacy Way tunnel in June 2015.
Legacy Way was an initiative of the Brisbane City Council and built by TransCity, a joint venture between Acciona, Ghella and BMD. The tunnel was completed on 24 June and opened to traffic on 25 June. Transurban Queensland reached financial close and took ownership of Legacy Way on 29 June 2015.
The opening of Legacy Way has been anticipated by motorists in Brisbane's western suburbs since construction began in April 2011. The tunnel offers significant time savings of approximately 14 minutes for motorists travelling between Western Freeway at Toowong and the Inner City Bypass at Kelvin Grove. Tools like the interactive journey planner are proving popular in helping motorists plan their journey and estimate how much time they will save.
Awarded Australia’s most outstanding new infrastructure project of 2015, by Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, the Legacy Way Tunnel has multiple safety features including thousands of pre-cast concrete segments, 37 cross-passages, a radio rebroadcast system and incident detecting CCTV cameras, as well as a dedicated incident response team.
Named in honour of Australia's servicemen and women, one cent from every toll will be donated to the not-for-profit group Legacy, providing a significant and ongoing contribution to a charity that cares for the families of Australian veterans.
In the first few months of operation, the toll for the majority of vehicles has been discounted to $3.00 – 60% of the regular toll - to encourage motorists to try the new route. The toll price will increase to $3.90 from mid-November 2015 until May 2016 when the regular toll price of $4.85 will be applied The toll price is in line with other tolled tunnels in Brisbane.
In September 2014, we formalised an agreement with the Queensland State Government to deliver the Gateway Upgrade North project. The upgrade is jointly funded by the Federal and State governments and includes widening 11.3km of motorway from four to six lanes between Nudgee and Bracken Ridge, upgrading the Nudgee Interchange and duplicating the Deagon Deviation in northern Brisbane.
Transurban Queensland’s role includes procurement and contract management on behalf of the government. This road will not be managed by Transurban or tolled.
We are pleased to be involved with this much needed upgrade of the Gateway Motorway which will also provide travel time savings on our network.
The project includes:
Transurban Queensland will collaboratively manage the delivery of the $1.16 billion project with the Department of Transport and Main Roads. We expect major construction to commence by early 2016 and be completed by the end of 2018.