Work on the $3 billion NorthConnex tunnel is nearing completion following the first end-to-end drive through along the M1-M2 link in Sydney.
The nine-kilometre twin tunnels join the M1 Pacific Motorway at Wahroonga to Pennant Hills Road-Cumberland Highway and the M2 Hills Highway.
This enables drivers to bypass 40 traffic lights on the Pacific Highway to the CBD or drive from Newcastle to Melbourne without a single set of traffic lights.
NorthConnex was approved in January 2015, early work started the following month and tunnelling started in April 2016.
The project was constructed by a joint venture between Australian construction company Lendlease and the French infrastructure group Bouygues for Transurban and its partners in Westlink M7.
Three years after starting the project Lendlease decided to sell its engineering arm but excluded NorthConnex along with Kingsford Smith Drive road project in Brisbane and the Melbourne Metro tunnel project from the sale.
Related: Inside Lendlease’s $112bn Pipeline
Deputy prime minister and minister for infrastructure, transport and regional development Michael McCormack said this project created hundreds of jobs throughout its construction.
“Our $100 billion 10-year infrastructure pipeline is delivering projects that make a real difference to everyday lives,” McCormack said.
Minister for transport Andrew Constance said the design featured state-of-the-art light displays aimed at keeping drivers alert.
“We’re installing Australian-first innovative lighting designs, including backlit silhouettes of native birds, trees and starry skies, to keep drivers alert in the country’s longest road tunnel,” Constance said.
The project created 8,700 jobs with just 400 workers across 11 sites in the final stages.
It is expected take 5,000 trucks off local streets, easing congestion along Pennant Hills Road, improving air quality and reducing traffic noise.