Monday, 7 November 2016

1975: F6 Southern Tollway opens

NSW Premier Tom Lewis cuts the ribbon to open the Southern Tollway on July 24, 1975.

Source: Anonymous. 1975. "Lewis Opens Super Road". The Illawarra Mercury, July 25, 3. 

I am currently on a teaching appointment to a school in the Illawarra region and I am dependent on the F6 Southern Freeway (Renamed Princes Motorway) to get me there in just one hour.

I am one of thousands of commuters that are dependent on the freeway to get us from Sydney to Wollongong or vice versa each day, whether it is for work, education (University of Wollongong), to visit family or escape Sydney to visit the Illawarra or South Coast. It acts as a lifeline between the two cities. 

In past years, a trip by car to Wollongong entailed one to navigate the old Princes Highway and then snake their way down Bulli Pass to get into Wollongong. It was not a safe trip either.

Planning for the freeway did begin in the 1930's but World War II halted planning. This was revisited in the 1950's with the vision to build a freeway from Sydney through to Wollongong. A corridor was designated from Waterfall to St Peters and remains untouched, though a number of parks run into the corridor like Scarborough Park at Kogarah. The only section built was Captain Cook Bridge at Taren Point which opened in 1965. Meanwhile, a freeway corridor was reserved in Wollongong, which incorporated Mt Ousley Road which had been built in World War II to improve transport movements from Sydney to the Illawarra.

F6 June 10 1970 The Leader 11

Source: Anonmyous. 1970. "Toll Road Job to Start Soon". The St George and Sutherland Shire Leader, June 10, 11.

The corridor from Waterfall to Bulli Tops was gazetted in 1952. Approval to construct a km tollway was given in 1970. Construction commenced in June 1970. After delays in construction (original completion was late 1974), the $18 million tollroad was officially opened to traffic on July 24 1975 by NSW Premier Tom Lewis. The premier hailed it as a "masterpiece of design and workmanship". Motorists were charged a toll of 40 cents to drive between Waterfall and Bulli Tops. With a speed limit of 110km/h, a person can cover the entire 22 kilometre freeway in just 12 minutes.

Source: Anonymous. 1975. "Cars Queue to Try Tollway: Premier Opens Super Shortcut". The Illawarra Mercury, July 25, 3. 

With the route prone to fog, electronic signage was provided to alert drivers to changes in road conditions including variable speed limits. This is shown in the WIN News Illawarra archives which was shown in 2015 to mark its 40th anniversary.

Source: Win News Illawarra. (2015)."Construction of the F6 Freeway. [Online Video]. 21 July 2015. Available from: [Accessed: 3 November 2016].

 Tolls were abolished in 1995 to encourage heavy vehicles to use the freeway instead of the Princes Highway which "had a poor accident record", and reduce business costs. 

  F6 Toll abolished May 17 1995 daily telegraph 5

Source: de Vine, B. 1995. "State Government abolishes F6 charge". The Daily Telegraph Mirror, May 17,5.

F6 July 1 1995 daily telegraph 9

Source: Zeller, F. 1995. "F6 a free way ...but Knight shies from M4, M5 pledge". The Daily Telegraph Mirror, July 1, 9. 

In 2000, an interchange was opened at Helensburgh to improve access to the suburb along with Stanwell Park.

As for linking the (now) Princes Motorway into Sydney's network of motorways, the planning continues more than six decades later. The NSW Government has now referred to the southern freeway as "SouthConnex" and is planned to be a priority once the NorthConnex and West Connex projects are completed. Below is a recent report from Seven News relating to the F6 Motorway.