Guide to Sydney's Freeways

Sydney's first freeway - the Cahill Expressway - was opened in 1957. This expressway basically formed the southern approach to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Soon after that came the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway from Cowan to Calga; then the Western Freeway from Blacktown to Emu Plains; etc. etc.

The quality of Sydney's freeways themselves are excellent - nicely surfaced with wide, wooded medians and emergency callboxes frequently placed along the left shoulder. However, the freeway system does have many shortcomings, the most noticeable being that many of them are tolled.

Another major shortcoming is that the freeways are good at connecting nowhere to nowhere. Generally, the freeways start out in the outer suburbs, head somewhat towards the city, and then come to an unceremonious halt at a rather inconvenient location. A good example of this is the M2. 20km of beautiful roadway through scenic country, well-equipped with bus lanes and beautiful SPUI interchanges - then it comes to a halt somewhere near Lane Cove where it can often take more than an hour to complete the rest of the trip into the city centre.

The reason many freeways in Sydney end like this is due to a rather short-sighted policy of the Federal Government in the early 1970's which forbade Federal road aid to urban freeways within a five mile radius of a metropolitan city centre. Even though this policy has been dropped - the Feds don't fund urban freeways anymore except for metropolitan bypasses which are part of the National Highway network - the inner-city tofu-eating tree-hugging NIMBY's are guaranteed to shoot any decent freeway project down. To get around these pesky NIMBY's, the State government is building or planning to build tunnelled freeways to bypass the NIMBY's and the surface road congestion. Might be expensive, but if it keeps the damnable NIMBY's happy, and the road gets built, then I'm happy too. :-) Not sure about my tax bill though....

Yet another shortcoming in Sydney's freeway system is the standard of interchanges. The overwhelming majority of interchanges in Sydney are of a standard diamond variety, with a set of traffic lights on each pair of ramps. This set-up might be good out in the country or in thinly populated outer suburbs, but they fail spectacularly on heavy urban roads. There is not a single full cloverleaf interchange in Sydney, let alone a stack or a volleyball or a mixing-bowl. Some interchanges see mind-boggling backups every peak period, simply because the interchanges are not equipped to handle the traffic volumes.

Below you will find links to individual histories and exit guides of different freeways in Sydney. All comments and corrections are welcomed at [email protected].

Hills Motorway (M2)

Western Motorway (M4)

South-Western Motorway (M5)

Sydney-Newcastle Freeway (F3)

Southern Freeway (F6)

© Bradley Torr. Last updated 19-Jan-2000.

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