Roadwork on the M1 has been a long and painful situation that often deters people from making unnecessary trips to and from Sydney and Newcastle. Some of us use the M1 as a daily commute while others go more occasionally for attractions, events, further travel or a weekend getaway. Driving through all the M1 roadwork, with its slow-moving traffic, time delays and detours, leaves a bad taste in your mouth. And what makes it worse is that majority of us don’t even know what the roadwork is for.
What is happening with the M1 roadwork? Why is the M1 roadwork happening? How much time does the M1 roadwork add to my travel time? How much longer will there be roadwork on the M1? Are all questions concerning the M1 that we as locals have but do not know the answer to.
There are currently three sections of the M1 that are undergoing major roadworks. These include; Tuggerah to Doyalson outside the twin service centres, Kariong to Somersby, and the Weakleys Drive and John Renshaw Drive intersection. All of which are undergoing changes for the same roadworks costing a total of $391.6 million.
The Tuggerah to Doyalson roadwork has an expected completion of late 2020. Speed zones are affected with a maximum speed of 80km/hr and a low speed of 40km/hr. This is instead of the usual 110km/hr we are used to. Starting from the 19th of October there will be partial and full road closures with corresponding detours during night works.
The roadwork will impact 50km of existing road while widening the motorway to three lanes in each direction and rebuilding it for a smoother surface. Currently, access to the northbound service centre is being affected because the road leading up the ramp is a current worksite hotspot. You can still enter the service centre, however, due to the daily shift of detour cones, it may be quite confusing. Work outside the south bound service centre will begin soon with no expected start date yet.
Upgrades along Kariong to Somersby interchange run from 6am-8pm weekdays and 7am-5pm Saturdays with an expected completion sometime in 2020. Expect short delays and occasional late night works. Temporary lanes are marked for the 8km works with north and south bound lanes experiencing night closures and 40-80km/hr speed limits.
The roadwork includes widening the existing road from two lanes each direction, to three lanes each way, to accommodate growing traffic flow. Also, improvements are being made to 3 out of 4 ramps at the Kariong interchange to ensure safe access to the M1.
The Weakleys Drive & John Renshaw Drive Intersection supports movements between the New England Highway and the Pacific Highway. Date for expected completion is set for some time in 2019. There is a maximum traffic speed of 60km/hr during peak travel time and a minimum speed of 40km/hr at all other times.
Upgrades include the removal of the interior roundabout, with a temporary roundabout put in its place until the installation of traffic lights is complete. There will now be two through lanes in either direction as well as lanes to accommodate cyclists. Left turn slip lanes from each direction are also being added by road expansion.
With all these changed speed zones and roadworks, be aware that time to travel from Newcastle to Sydney or Sydney to Newcastle has increased. Along the 50km stretch at Tuggerah to Doyalson, expect a minimum of 7 minutes of delays at 80km/hr, more in 40km zones. The 8km Kariong upgrade expect minimum delays of 2 minutes depending on traffic conditions and 80km zones.
The Weakleys Drive & John Renshaw Drive Intersection delays can be hefty depending on peak traffic conditions and which way you are coming from. Allowing for a 5-10 minute delay will ensure you have enough time to get through peak stop-start traffic.
With the extra time and confusion of delays, road closures and detours, consider all options when travelling to and from Sydney and Newcastle. This may include giving yourself extra time or using a different means of transportation to take away the stress of getting to your destination. This is a particularly good option if you are heading to an event, Sydney airport or cruise terminal. If you are heading to sometime important and don’t have the time to take a leisurely pace, looking into other transport could save you time, energy and stress. Alternative transport options include trains, buses, shuttles and private transfers, some of which come with door to door services that take the hassle out of travel.