M2 Hills Motorway
The Hills Motorway (also known as the Hills M2 Motorway, M2 Motorway or simply M2) is a tollway in north-western Sydney, Australia, owned by toll road operator Transurban. It forms part of Sydney's M2 route and the 110 km Sydney Orbital Network. West of Pennant Hills Road, the M2 is also part of the National Highway.
Toll gantries at Macquarie Park
|Length||21.4 km (13 mi)|
(Completed on 26 May 1997)
|Major suburbs / towns||Epping|
The M2 Hills Motorway connects directly with the Lane Cove Tunnel at the Lane Cove River in North Ryde and heads north-west through Macquarie Park to Epping, then West through Beecroft, Carlingford then through Baulkham Hills and Winston Hills onto the Westlink M7 motorway at Seven Hills.
The M2 uses a cashless tolling system, where tolls are charged on the basis of vehicles being either Class 2 (which includes most private vehicles) or Class 4 (vehicles with two axles and are over 2.8 metres high, or vehicles with three axles which are over 2 metres high, or vehicles with more than three axles). The current maximum toll payable is $7.52 for Class 2 vehicles and $22.57 for Class 4 vehicles.
Aborted early plans
Plans for an ambitious set of freeways for Sydney were originally drawn up in 1942 which included a link to the Gladesville Bridge and then on to Anzac Bridge via a new set of elevated freeways behind Drummoyne.
Proposals for a North West Freeway (later known as the F2/Castlereagh Freeway) which followed the route of the current M2 from Epping Road to Seven Hills were released in 1962 and included in the 1964 UBD street directory. Protests in 1974 led to suspension of works and cancellation in 1977, along with the Lane Cove Valley Expressway which would have intersected with the North West Freeway at the junction of Epping and Pittwater Road. An 'F1 Freeway' (Warringah Freeway) which was intended to link to the Northern Beaches, via Roseville Bridge, and not to the Hills district was also cancelled. The Gore Hill Freeway and Lane Cove Tunnel were not part of this original plan.
Parramatta was bypassed in 1986, however peak hour traffic still clogged up Victoria Road and all western approaches to Sydney.
Land for the F2 freeway was purchased by NSW Government in 1988 and the road from Gladesville Bridge to Hunters Hill was built to freeway-style standards. However, a Commission of Inquiry for Environment and Planning set up in July 1990 and chaired by John Woodward, then recommended stage 1 of the project (from Pennant Hills Rd, Beecroft, and Epping Road at Ryde) should not be built.
Planning and construction
The M2 Hills Motorway was developed to connect Old Windsor Road, Seven Hills to Epping Road, North Ryde, bypassing the inner western suburbs linking with the Gore Hill Freeway at Artarmon which leads to the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney central business district.
The NSW Government conducted an environmental impact assessment on the options available, and in May 1993 announced that the road would be constructed with private funds using a Build Own Operate Transfer. The Government then entered into an agreement with Hills Motorway Limited to build and operate the M2 for 45 years, before ownership will revert to the government. The motorway pioneered the use of electronic tolling in Australia.
The road included a two lane busway between Windsor Road to Beecroft Road with a connection to Epping Train Station. There was dedicated access ramps for buses, which was removed in 2012 during road works to widen the motorway.
There was strong community opposition to the construction of the motorway by local residents and environment groups including the Nature Conservation Council, as the route would destroy a vast area of valuable urban bushland, the money would be better spent on public transport infrastructure and the air pollution from private motor vehicles would contribute to global warming. There were also fears the bus lanes might be removed in the future to provide additional capacity for private vehicles. "Freeway Busters" was one of the groups that organised protests, including two "Cyclestormings" of the construction site by hundreds of cyclists. The opening ceremony of the tollway in 1997, a champagne breakfast for conservative dignitaries including Alan Jones and a "celebrity drive-through" featuring swimmer Susie Maroney, was disrupted by sound systems mounted high in gum trees, playing the sound of car crashes, ambulance sirens and jack-hammers. After the motorway opened, cyclists also protested the toll which the operators charged cyclists by occupying the toll plaza. This protest was successful and the toll was subsequently dropped.
The motorway was opened on 26 May 1997 by Sandra Schaap. It was acquired by Transurban in 2006 after a successful takeover bid. Transurban then acquired Tollaust, which managed the tolls for the road, in January 2006.
The Westlink M7, which links the M2 Hills Motorway at Seven Hills), opened on 16 December 2005 and runs to the M5 South Western Motorway at Prestons. The Lane Cove Tunnel, which linked the M2 at Lane Cove, opened on 25 March 2007. It carries about 50,000 vehicles per day on the Sydney Orbital Network.
A third traffic lane westbound between the Lane Cove Road and Beecroft Road interchanges which utilises a former cycling/breakdown lane opened in April 2007. This change was criticised by cyclists, who were required to use an alternative route as a result, and by some motorists who have said that the addition of a third lane will induce more traffic and would only shift the bottleneck further down the motorway as a result of assisting and maintaining free-flowing traffic from the Lane Cove Tunnel. A speed camera to enforce the 70 km/h limit was introduced on the westbound carriageway just before the Epping/Norfolk Road tunnel.
A major upgrade started in January 2011, with more on- and off-ramps being built, including off-ramps onto Windsor Road eastbound, which was completed in July 2012, and a westbound off-ramp and eastbound on-ramp at Macquarie Park, which were completed in January 2013. During the upgrade, the fixed speed camera installed before the Epping/Norfolk Road tunnel was removed in mid 2013, and by November 2014 the speed limit was lifted to 100 km/h limit along the length of the M2.
After initially refusing to include construction of east-facing ramps to Lane Cove Road as a part of the M2 Upgrade Project, Transurban and the NSW Government reached agreement to construct a new on-ramp in February 2013. The tolled ramp, which allows southbound traffic from Lane Cove Road to enter the M2 motorway towards Sydney, eliminating the need to travel through the busy Macquarie Park area to enter the motorway through the Epping Road or Macquarie Park on-ramps, opened in July 2014. There was no provision for northbound traffic from Lane Cove Road to enter the motorway eastbound, nor for westbound motorway traffic to exit at Lane Cove Road.
On 20 March 2018 the Government of New South Wales and Transurban started testing driverless cars on the M2 Hills Motorway. The launch coincided with the death of a pedestrian struck by a similarly human-supervised autonomous vehicle in Arizona.
Connection to NorthConnex
The NorthConnex M1 to M2 tunnel, currently under construction for a planned 2020 opening, includes motorway-to-motorway ramps to and from the portion of the M2 west of Pennant Hills Road/The Cumberland Highway. Connection between NorthConnex and the eastern portion of the M2 will be via Pennant Hills Road, although the NorthConnex-M2 interchange has been designed to allow for future motorway-to-motorway connections to the Sydney CBD.
|Parramatta – The Hills Shire boundary||Winston Hills – Baulkham Hills boundary||0||0.0||Western terminus: continues as WestLink M7; westbound exit to and eastbound entrance from Old Windsor Road / Abbott Road|
|Baulkham Hills||3.3||2.1||Windsor Road – Parramatta, Baulkham Hills|
|Parramatta – Hornsby boundary||West Pennant Hills – Carlingford – Beecroft tripoint||8.3||5.2|
|Parramatta – Hornsby boundary||Cheltenham||11.7||7.3||Beecroft Road – Epping, Beecroft||Westbound exit and eastbound entrance|
|Epping – North Epping boundary||11.9–|
|Epping / Norfolk Tunnel|
|Ryde||Macquarie Park||14.6||9.1||Toll point|
|Christie Road||Eastbound exit and entrance|
|15.7||9.8||Talavera Road||Westbound exit and entrance|
|17.0||10.6||No exit westbound; no eastbound entrance from A3 northbound|
|Macquarie Park – North Ryde boundary||18.4||11.4||Eastbound exit and westbound entrance|
|North Ryde||19.3||12.0||Eastern terminus: continues as Lane Cove Tunnel; westbound exit to and eastbound entrance from Epping Road|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi|
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- "Lane Cove Road Ramp - completed". NSW Roads and Maritime Services. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
- McLean, Asha (21 March 2018). "NSW starts driverless car trial as Uber pauses". ZDNet. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
- Thomsen, Simon (21 March 2018). "NSW is now trialling automated vehicles on Sydney's motorways". Business Insider Australia. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
- "Southern Interchange". NorthConnex. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
- Google (17 January 2016). "M2 Hills Motorway – Westlink M7 to Delhi Road" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
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