Blackheath to Little Hartley - Great Western Highway Upgrade Program


Project overview

The NSW Government is investing $2.5 billion towards upgrading the Great Western Highway between Katoomba and Lithgow.

The Katoomba to Lithgow duplication will provide major economic and safety benefits. It will improve the connection between Central West NSW and Sydney, reduce congestion, improve resilience and freight productivity, and provide a safer and more reliable journey for thousands of residents, commuters, tourists and freight operators who travel in, around and through the Blue Mountains.

Submission to the Blackheath to Little Hartley Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) closed on 1 March 2023. A Response to Submissions document is currently being compiled and will be made available when complete.

Latest news

May 2022 - Australia's longest road tunnel locked for Blue Mountains

The NSW Government today confirmed the 11-kilometre toll-free tunnel from Blackheath to Little Hartley as the preferred option following an in-depth feasibility analysis and extensive investigation process.

View the media release for more information.

Apr 2022 - Facts on Freight

View information on freight in the Blue Mountains.

Nov 2021 - Flora & fauna field work starts along future GWH tunnel corridor

A team of ecologists are documenting local wildlife and plants in the Blue Mountains and Hartley Valley, to ensure impacts to local flora and fauna are minimised.

View the media release for more information.

Sep 2021 - Historic Blue Mountains Tunnel a step closer

Plans to build Australia’s longest road tunnel between Blackheath and Little Hartley are powering ahead, with a major contract awarded for the environmental assessment.

AECOM Australia had been selected in a competitive tender process to work on the proposed 11-kilometre tunnel, a central component of the Great Western Highway upgrade between Katoomba and Lithgow.
View the media release for more information.


Blackheath to Little Hartley Interactive portal

To learn more about this project, view our interactive portal for more information.


Blackheath upgrade Interactive portal

To learn more about this project, view our interactive portal for more information.

Project information


In 2010, Transport for NSW consulted on a preferred option for an upgrade of the Great Western Highway between Mount Victoria and Lithgow. This consultation process confirmed a tunnel and viaduct bypass of Mount Victoria and Victoria Pass, and the alignment was adopted into the Local Environment Plans of Lithgow and Blue Mountains City Councils.

In 2019, the NSW Government committed funding towards the upgrade of the road corridor between Katoomba and Lithgow and Transport for NSW began consultation on strategic options for this upgrade.

During 2020, Transport for NSW consulted with the Blackheath Co‑Design Committee (BCC) on four broad route options for the upgrade at Blackheath. The BCC advised that their preferred option was a tunnel bypass of Blackheath.

Broader community consultation on the preferred option for Blackheath confirmed that the community preferred a tunnel bypass between portals south of Evans Lookout Road and near the existing Mount Boyce heavy vehicle safety station.

In May 2021, the NSW Government announced that Transport for NSW would investigate the feasibility of a tunnel between Blackheath and Little Hartley. Studies have confirmed that two identical (twin) tunnels, one eastbound and one westbound, around 11 kilometres long between Blackheath and Little Hartley is the most viable option and Transport for NSW will take this option forward for further development, community consultation and environmental investigation.


  • Two identical (twin) tunnels, one eastbound and one westbound, around 11 kilometres long, generally to the south of the existing Great Western Highway and Mount Victoria.
  • Two lanes of traffic flow in each tunnel, to separate traffic and increase safety.
  • Road shoulders to allow vehicles to stop safely without interrupting traffic flow.
  • A possible tunnel depth of up to 200 metres below ground at the deepest point to the south of Mount Victoria.
  • Tunnel operation facilities including ventilation systems, drainage management, signage, lighting, and emergency evacuation systems.

Features of the tunnel are subject to further development design, Environmental Impact Statement and detailed design.


A safer journey

A tunnel between Blackheath and Little Hartley would provide a more direct route. It would also make the journey safer, incorporating modern design and safety improvements and reducing and straightening out curves and gradient changes.

Less disruption to traffic

Most of the construction work for the tunnel would happen underground. Building portals and connecting roads is one of the most disruptive parts of a tunnel upgrade. With less work on the surface – particularly between Blackheath and Mount Victoria – the upgrade will have less impact on traffic.

A more reliable connection

Recent extreme weather has again highlighted that the Blue Mountains needs a connection through the mountains that enables reliable access for emergency services and traffic under all conditions. The tunnel would create an additional option for travel in the mountains, alongside the existing surface highway, and Bells Line of Road.

Travel time savings

Creating a tunnel between Blackheath and Little Hartley will divert through traffic from the townships of Mount Victoria and Blackheath. This will improve travel times by reducing local traffic congestion, making more reliable trips.

Reduced environmental impacts

With only two portals and the highway route moved underground, there would be less impacts on National Park.

Next steps

Transport for NSWwill further develop the preliminary concept design which will be used as the basis for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The Department of Planning and Environment will place the EIS on display and invite community feedback in the second half of 2022.

The EIS exhibition is your opportunity to have your say on the development of the Blackheath to Little Hartley tunnel.

Community information

Community consultations

Blackheath tunnel options consultation October - November 2020

The preferred strategic route option for the bypass at Blackheath was released for consultation on 12 October 2020, focusing on a long tunnel with various portal options. Consultation continued until 28 November. The engagement included three community information sessions, held online to comply with advice from NSW Health and Covid-19 restrictions. 241 people booked into the online consultation sessions, while a further 125 people watched the recorded sessions at a later date. Seven phone consultations were also held, at the request of individual residents. More than 6211 people visited the online virtual consultation portal and more than 2486 items of feedback were received by the project team.

You can view or download the community consultation summary report (PDF, 5.52Mb).

Katoomba to Lithgow strategic design consultation November - December 2019

The strategic design for the upgrade of the Great Western Highway from Katoomba to Lithgow was released for community consultation on 07 November 2019, with consultation continuing to 16 December 2019. The engagement included nine community information sessions, two pop up displays and one public meeting held along the corridor at locations including Katoomba, Medlow Bath, Blackheath, Mount Victoria, Hartley and Lithgow. The sessions were attended by 1350 people and 1759 items of feedback were received by the project team.

You can view or download the community consultation summary report (PDF, 18.5Mb).

Frequentley asked questions (FAQs)

Blackheath Co-Design Committee

The Blackheath Co-Design Committee (BCC) was formed by Transport for NSW in March 2020, following feedback from the community. The Committee included stakeholder group representatives, selected community representatives, and representatives from the Blue Mountains City Council and emergency services.

The BCC was not a decision making body, but the outcome of the BCC is an important input into the Government's decision-making process for determining a preferred route option and design as the program progresses.

The Committee's unanimously preferred option was for a long tunnel underneath Blackheath.

Blackheath Co-Design Committee documents

Blackheath Co-Design Committee meeting minutes


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Project documents

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Community notifications

Project notifications


Fact sheets

Media release

  • 21 December 2022 
    Major work on Great Western Highway upgrade to start in the new year.
  • 15 May 2022

    Australia's longest road tunnel locked in for Blue Mountains.

  • 22 February 2022
    New approach for environmental assessment for Blue Mountains communities.

  • 17 November 2021
    Flora and fauna field work starts along future GWH tunnel corridor.

  • 14 September 2021
    Historic Blue Mountains tunnel a step closer.

  • 31 August 2021
    Preservation of Aboriginal heritage a key part of Blue Mountains Highway upgrade.

  • 17 August 2021
    Baseline air quality testing through Blue Mountains as part of great Western Highway upgrade.

  • 14 June 2021
    Great Western Highway upgrade powering ahead.

  • 14 June 2021
    Safer passage through Medlow Bath ahead of full highway upgrade.

  • 4 June 2021
    Archaeological dig to explore Aboriginal connection to Blue Mountains.

  • 3 May 2021
    Australia’s longest road tunnel proposed for Great Western Highway Upgrade.

  • 3 March 2021
    3 March 2021 Doing the groundwork for highway upgrade.

  • 18 February 2021
    Highway history to be preserved for future generations.

  • 30 October 2020
    More time to have your say on Blackheath tunnel.

  • 12 October 2020
    Tunnel options best fit for Blackheath.

  • 1 October 2020
    Heading west this long weekend? Making your journey home faster and safer.

  • 4 June 2020
    Two possible bypasses of Blackheath considered by committee.

  • 13 May 2020
    Locals have their say on Great Western Highway upgrade.

  • 28 February 2020
    Blackheath locals to help co-design Great Western Highway upgrade.

  • 3 December 2019
    Blackheath community invited to meeting to learn more about the Great Western Highway upgrade.

  • 7 November 2019
    Have your say on Great Western Highway.

  • 11 March 2019
    Green light for $2.5 billion Great western highway duplication.

Contact us

For further information about this project, please contact:

Phone: 1800 953 777


Post: Great Western Highway - PO Box 2332, Orange NSW 2800.