The NSW government has supported a $30 billion infrastructure strategy released yesterday that recommended a motorway linking the F3 and M2 in the next five years.
Other road developments in the strategy also suggested Parramatta Road be torn up and a motorway carved beneath.
Premier Barry O'Farrell, responded to the release of the independent Infrastructure NSW report by committing $1.8 billion to its centrepiece project, the WestConnex motorway.
The motorway would involve widening the M4 and running underneath Parramatta Road between Strathfield and Camperdown, before tunnelling under the inner west from Camperdown.
It would connect to the airport, as well as another M5 East tunnel.The duplicated M5 tunnel is likely to be the first section built.
According to Infrastructure NSW the motorway will save drivers 35 minutes and 52 traffic lights between Parramatta and the airport.
WestConnex is the largest scheme in Infrastructure NSW's State Infrastructure Strategy.
Its also includes:
- Faster trains to Newcastle and the Illawarra.
- An F6 motorway through southern Sydney within 20 years.
- Light rail from Central to Moore Park but not in the city.
- Underground bus terminals in the CBD within 10 years.
- Widening the Spit Bridge within five to 10 years.
- A rejection of the need for another rail crossing of Sydney Harbour.
The strategy, released at a news conference by Infrastructure NSW's chairman, Nick Greiner, and chief executive, Paul Broad, lists 70 recommendations.
Many are similar to those in a separate masterplan unveiled by the transport department, Transport for NSW, last month. But a number are different, leaving the government with a choice of whether to accept the advice of its bureaucrats or the independent body it created.
Mr O'Farrell immediately supported the WestConnex project, but said a project team would be established within Roads and Maritime Services to determine its final details, including how it would be funded and built and its construction start date.
More details will be released around the time of the state budget in June.
The Treasurer, Mike Baird, said Infrastructure NSW believed WestConnex could be built for $10 billion but it could cost as much as $13 billion.
Infrastructure NSW has suggested a system of distance-based tolling with a cap of about $7 on the WestConnex, as is the case with the M7.
But it has also recommended cheaper construction methods than previously proposed for an M4 extension for the inner west.
Yesterday's report argues for a ''slot'' to be carved beneath Parramatta Road for the new motorway, instead of a tunnel.
Infrastructure NSW's vision for Parramatta Road depicts it looking like the Eastern Distributor, with apartment developments hugging a sunken motorway.
The Infrastructure NSW report is unashamedly supportive of more investment in roads, including bus services, rather than rail or other dedicated public transport corridors.
The report argues against the idea new motorways create congestion.
Infrastructure NSW's main departure from the Transport for NSW plan is its opposition to another rail crossing for Sydney Harbour, the crucial transport project identified by the Herald's inquiry of 2010.
Mr Baird challenged the federal government to match a promise by the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, to commit $1.5 billion to the WestConnex project.