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Speed limit changes surrounding the Waterview Tunnel

From Monday 23 July the variable speed limits on sections of State Highways 16 and 20, around the Waterview Tunnel, will be increasing to allow maximum speeds of 100km/h in certain driving conditions.

The speed limit on the approaches and inside the Waterview Tunnel will remain at a maximum of 80km/h to help manage the higher risks associated with an enclosed tunnel environment.

What are variable speed limits?

Variable speed limits mean that the maximum legal speed limit can change between 30km/h and 100km/h and can be adjusted for the road and driving conditions.

What are the benefits of a variable speed limit?

Variable speed limits help to manage and smooth traffic flows particularly where there are high traffic volumes and a number of on and off ramps in close proximity.

Areas like SH16 and SH20 often have vehicles travelling at different speeds and changing lanes as they enter and exit the motorway network, impacting on overall traffic flow and increasing the likelihood of incidents and delays.

Managing the speed limit, particularly during busy periods, means everyone can have a more consistent and safer journey.

In what circumstances will the maximum speed limit change?

The maximum speed limit will be varied to manage the safe and efficient flow of traffic as required for high traffic volumes, incidents, crashes, maintenance and changing environmental conditions.

Where will the changes apply?

The detailed locations of the variable speed limit changes and phasing is listed below and outlined in the maps.

Variable speed limit extents

Map showing variable speed limit extents. Download the variable speed limit map [PDF, 3.2 MB]

Great North Road interchange

Map of the Great North Road interchange. Download the Great North Road interchange map [PDF, 2 MB]

How did this change come about?

Since opening the Waterview Tunnel in July 2017, we’ve been monitoring network operation and driver behaviour in and around the twin 2.4km tunnels and taking on board customer and stakeholder feedback.

Following a comprehensive safety and operational review of the area and consultation with key partners, we sought public feedback on the proposal to increase the variable speed limit on sections of State Highways 16 and 20 around the Waterview Tunnel.

Public feedback was open for a 4 week period from 28 February to 28 March and we received more than 3,000 responses during that time, with the significant majority in favour of increasing the maximum speed limit.

Download the consultation summary for speed limit changes surrounding the Waterview Tunnel (March 2018) [PDF, 1.5 MB]

Other improvements

In addition to the variable speed limit changes, monitoring and feedback has also identified opportunities to improve signage and lane marking to help drivers plan ahead and safely move in to the correct lane, reducing sudden lane changes on the tunnel approaches and exits.

Potential wayfinding or directional signage and lane marking improvements are currently being investigated and any changes will be comprehensively tested to ensure they are clear, intuitive and helpful to drivers. Any changes will be implemented following the speed limit increase to allow monitoring of the updated variable speed limits and enable an incremental and well managed process.