The $3 billion project is scheduled to open on Saturday, October 31, with a toll of $7.99 for automobiles and $23.97 for trucks. The tunnel would redirect up to 5,000 trucks a day from Pennant Hills Road, one of Sydney's busiest thoroughfares. It also would provide access to the port area for trucks.
The construction work has been divided into phases to avoid traffic interruptions during important public events in the city such as the Summer Olympics in 2000 and the Rugby World Cup in 2011. The first phase was completed in December 2003, and the second phase in November 2009. The third phase involves building an underground section between Chullora and Euston Roads in Brooklyn.
The fourth phase will connect the tunnel at Euston Road with M5 South Western Motorway at Cherrybrook, and is expected to be completed by late 2016 or early 2017.
When finished, NorthConnex will be 34 kilometers (21 miles) of four-lane motorway with partial interchanges connecting Sydney's north-west with the rest of the city. The project includes two tunnels: one under the Cooks River near Dural Avenue to connect with WestConnex in Leichhardt; the other under Bells Pond Park in Brookland to link with M5 South Western Motorway in Cherrybrook.
The NorthConnex tunnel, which is 9 kilometers long, may handle up to 100,000 automobiles every day. Tolls for vehicles are $7.99 and trucks are $23.97. Trucks that avoid the tunnel will be fined $194.80.
The project has been criticized for being a "toolless" highway that will cause traffic problems in the city. Opponents claim the government should build more public transport instead.
Construction on the first stage started in December 2014 and is expected to be finished by 2019. The second stage starting in 2020 will connect the new road with existing roads leading into Sydney's central business district.
The total cost of the project is estimated to be $11.9 billion (A$15.5 billion). Of this amount, $788 million has been allocated for the construction of Stage 1. The remaining $3 billion will be used for Stage 2 and future extensions of the tunnel.
Stage 1 of the project will link the M1 Eastern Distributor with the M2 Hills Motorway at Cherry Farm via the M4 Western Motorway. It will also have an exit to the M5 South Western Motorway. This stage is expected to reduce travel time between the Northern Beaches/Meadowbank area and the Central Business District (CBD) by about 20 minutes.
The tunnel cost R202 million to build, and the additional cost of road infrastructure improvements on its eastern side increased this sum to R500 million. The tunnel required the excavation of half a million cubic metres of rock. It was constructed by Frua Calcerini Torre di Feletto with the help of 1,200 workers over four years from 1937 to 1941.
Fletto's company received most of its funding from the French government who were interested in having a new road link between Paris and Lyon. The work was difficult due to the unstable soil caused by volcanic activity and the presence of gas bubbles under the surface that could cause the ground to collapse.
The first section of the tunnel opened in 1937 and it was officially named "Autoroute de l'Ouest" (Westway Motorway). The second section, which runs underneath the city center of Lyon, opened in 1941. The third section, which connects the northern suburbs to the motorway network, opened in 1945. Work on the fourth and final section was started in 1955 but was not completed until 1994 because of budget cuts imposed by France's government at the time. This section connects the west coast port of Saint-Étienne with the motorway near Montélimar.
It was initially known as the Millennium Dome and cost around $976 million (PS700 million) to construct, with the majority of the funds coming from taxpayers. The facility, which opened in 2000 to commemorate the new century, included a surreal theme park with exhibits influenced by culture, lifestyle, and spirituality. It has since been criticized for its impact on tourism in London.
In addition to visitors paying to enter the dome itself, there are other costs associated with running the exhibition. These include staff salaries, utility bills, maintenance expenses, etc.
The original estimate for the cost of building the Millennium Dome was 10 percent higher than originally projected. In February 2004 it was reported that the final bill had exceeded £500 million (US$936 million). Funding for the project came from several sources including private companies who paid to have their products featured in the dome's exhibitions, local authorities, and individuals. No public money was used to build the dome.
After the initial success of the dome, the Royal Institution of Great Britain started the Science Museum Group to develop similar projects all over the world. So far, this group has completed or is working on projects in China, Japan, Russia, and America.
Here in London, the focus has now shifted away from cultural events to more practical applications of science such as technology exhibitions and educational programs for children. A new generation of scientists is needed to lead the way into the next millennium!