Sydney Harbour Tunnel

The Sydney Harbour Tunnel is a twin tube road tunnel in Sydney, Australia. The tunnel was completed and opened to traffic in August 1992 to provide a second vehicular crossing of Sydney Harbour to alleviate congestion on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The tunnel joins the Warringah Freeway at North Sydney, and the Cahill Expressway at the entrance to the Domain Tunnel. It has two lanes in each direction, and runs at an angle of approximately thirty degrees (North to South) to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which has eight lanes, with a tidal flow operation. In 2005, the tunnel was carrying around 86,800 vehicles per day. [ [ NSW RTA: Sydney Harbour Tunnel] ]


The tunnel is made up of three sections: twin 900-metre land tunnels on the north shore, twin 400-metre land tunnels on the south shore and a 960-metre immersed tube (IMT) structure. The tunnel falls about 55 metres from the northern entrance and about 35 metres from the southern entrance to its deepest point, 20 metres below sea-level.

The IMT structure consists of eight precast concrete units. The units were constructed over 100 kilometres away in a casting basin at Port Kembla and then towed to Sydney Harbour. A trench was dredged prior to the arrival of the IMTs and then the IMTs were lowered into the trench by a system of pontoons and control towers. After the IMTs were in place the trenches were backfilled and then a rock armour was placed over the top to protect the units against marine hazards, such as anchors or sinking vessels.

The land tunnels were constructed by a combination of driving and cut-and-cover techniques. The total construction cost of the project was A$554 million, and was designed to be strong enough to withstand the impact of earthquakes and sinking ships.

One of the northern end pylons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge was altered to allow for air exhaust from the tunnel to rise over the harbour. Bradfield Park on the northern side of the bridge also has hidden air intakes behind some conspicuously placed bushes.

The tunnel was opened to the public to walk through from North Sydney (Falcon Street) to South Sydney (The Domain), on 27 August 1992. The proceeds of the tickets sold for this event were donated to the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children. The tunnel opened to traffic on 31 August, 1992. [ [ NSW RTA: Sydney Harbour Tunnel] ]


The Harbour Tunnel was a partnership between the NSW State Government and private investors via tender. Transfield Pty Limited and Kumagai Gumi formed a joint venture company which constructed the tunnel under contract. The tunnel is currently on a thirty-year lease, and will be handed back to the NSW State Government in August 2022.

There was a lot of scepticism surrounding the appointment of Transfield International to build the tunnel, after other projects including IMT tunnels, carried out by the group, developed structural problems resulting in leaks.


Only southbound traffic (both for the Sydney Harbour Tunnel and Bridge) attracts a toll of A$3.00 (currently). The NSW Government announced in 2006 that the Sydney Orbital Network will phase out cash tolls by 2010. [ [,22049,21615620-5006009,00.html The Daily Telegraph: Sydney toll network dumps coins] ]

The Sydney Harbour Tunnel went fully electronic from July 2007 with both e-TAG and e-pass video tolling arrangements in use, similar to technologies used the Westlink M7, Cross City Tunnel and the Lane Cove Tunnel. [ [,22606,22023173-5001021,00.html Drivers' gridlock on e-tags] ] This measure has substantially eased the traffic jams heading towards the electronic gantries, and providing increased convenience and time savings.

Freeway connections

* M1 Cahill Expressway
* Bradfield Highway
* M1Warringah Freeway
* M4 Western Distributor.

ee also

*Freeways in Australia
*Freeways in Sydney


* [ RTA, the 'cashless' Sydney Harbour Tunnel]
* [ Toll charges on Sydney toll roads $3 for the Sydney Harbour Tunnel]
* [ RTA, traffic cameras - Approching the Sydney Harbour Tunnel, southbound]
*Pratley, Juliet (1993) "Sydney Harbour Tunnel", "Concrete International" 15 (7) 19-23.

Crossings navbox
place=Port Jackson
bridge=Sydney Harbour Tunnel
bridge signs=
upstream=Sydney Harbour Bridge
upstream signs=
downstream=Tasman Sea
(Spit Bridge on Middle Harbour)
downstream signs=

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