Minister for WestConnex Stuart Ayres said motorists stuck on one of Sydney's congested roads are seeing a hive of activity taking place next to the existing M5 East at Kingsgrove, as part of the significant work under way to deliver the $4.3 billion project.
"With a roadheader lowered into position at Kingsgrove this week, half of the 16 roadheaders set to tunnel at the peak of construction are now working underground to help build the twin nine kilometre tunnels from Kingsgrove to St Peters," Ayres said.
"Combined, almost one kilometre has now been excavated across all four tunnelling sites - St Peters, Arncliffe, Bexley and Kingsgrove - since tunnelling first began last year.
"The twin tunnels are a key feature of the project which will run parallel to the existing M5 East and double the existing motorway corridor from two to four lanes in each direction.
"The roadheader at Kingsgrove will be used to excavate a passage to reach the mainline tunnels and allow tunneling to progress under the M5 East motorway and further east towards Bexley. Each roadheader weighs about 135 tonnes and is capable removing close to 7.5 million tonnes of spoil - enough rock to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool each week.
"We're pushing ahead to deliver this project with tunnelling taking place 24 hours a day, seven days a week."
Member for Oatley Mark Coure said once complete, the new M5 will cut up to half an hour from an average peak journey between Liverpool and South Sydney and motorists will be able to travel from Beverly Hills to St Peters in around 10 minutes.
"Delivery of the New M5 by 2020 can't come soon enough for the more than 100,000 motorists using this crucial south-west corridor daily," Coure said
"Motorists heading west on the M5 know trucks have to slow down on the tunnel exit, clogging up traffic back into the tunnel. The western portal exit to the New M5 tunnels at Kingsgrove will have a much gentler incline, helping to improve traffic flow and reduce emissions from heavy vehicles."
An average of around 800 workers are on site per day on the project, including around 150 people at Kingsgrove.