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Cahill Expressway
New South Wales
Cahill Expressway from Art Gallery Road – CN.jpg
General information
Type Expressway
Length 2.2 km (1.4 mi)
Opened 1958
Route number(s)
Former
route number
  • Metroad 1
  • (early 1990s-2013)
Major junctions
NW end
  Sydney Harbour Tunnel (M1)
SE end
Location(s)
Major suburbs / towns Sydney

The Cahill Expressway is the first true freeway constructed in Sydney, Australia.[1] It starts from the Eastern Distributor and Cross City Tunnel in Woolloomooloo, and runs through a series of sunken cuttings and tunnels between the Royal Botanical Gardens and The Domain. It then runs on an elevated section across the northern edge of the Sydney CBD at Circular Quay, and then across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to North Sydney. It connects there to the Warringah Freeway.

It is named after the then New South Wales Premier John Joseph Cahill, who also approved construction of the Sydney Opera House. While being a vital link in the Sydney road system, it is generally not well loved by Sydneysiders, who dislike its ugly appearance and its division of the city from its waterfront.

History[edit]

The Cahill Expressway under construction in 1955
The Cahill Expressway viewed from the Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Cahill Expressway viewed from the vicinity of Macquarie Street, Sydney

The expressway was first proposed in 1945 as part of an overall expressway plan for Sydney. Public opposition began when the proposal was first made public in 1948, with the Quay Planning Protest Committee being formed. Despite the opposition, construction on the elevated section of the expressway went ahead in 1955. Funding was provided by the Sydney Council and the NSW Government, and the elevated section was opened on 24 March 1958. Work on the sunken section commenced almost straight away after that, and the additional section was opened on 1 March 1962.[2]

In June 2013, the Expressway was temporarily renamed the Tim Cahill Expressway in honour of Socceroo Tim Cahill, ahead of the Socceroos' 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification match against Iraq.[3]

Vital link[edit]

The expressway forms a vital link between Sydney's eastern and northern suburbs, by connecting the Eastern Distributor to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Harbour Tunnel. It allows travel directly from the airport to the northern suburbs without traffic signals, and reduces pressure on alternative cross-city routes such as Bridge St, Park St and Bathurst St. The traffic on the elevated section was also reduced by half following the opening of the Sydney Harbour tunnel in 1992.

The elevated section is a double deck, with the top deck carrying cars, and the lower deck railway lines and Circular Quay railway station. The station provides easy access to the Sydney Opera House and the Royal Botanical Gardens. The westbound lanes dip underneath the Harbour Bridge approach road, before forming a large spiral circling the Sydney Observatory to join to the Bridge in a confined space.

The expressway has a pedestrian walkway next to the traffic lanes, where great views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the CBD can be seen. It is accessible by stairs from Macquarie St, or an elevator near Circular Quay railway station. The walkway connects with the Sydney Harbour Bridge walkway. The NSW Roads and Traffic Authority offers tickets to view the New Year's Eve fireworks from the Cahill Expressway deck through a competition.[4]

Criticism[edit]

The Cahill Expressway was controversial from day one. Its elevated nature, proximity to the city and utilitarian appearance meant that when the design of the elevated section was first unveiled to the public, it was described as ridiculous, ugly, unsightly and a monstrosity. This was an early example of freeway revolt.

Sydney Morning Herald writer Elizabeth Farrelly describes the freeway as 'doggedly symmetrical, profoundly deadpan, severing the city from the water on a permanent basis'.[5] The sunken section of the expressway runs between the Royal Botanical Gardens and The Domain, key green spaces in Sydney. The Botanic Gardens Trust describes the expressway as destroying the spatial relationship between the two.[6]

Demolition of the expressway has been proposed in the past, most prominently by former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating, who in 1994 offered federal funds in the amount of A$150 million toward such a project.[7] The then NSW Premier, John Fahey, rejected the proposal because of the cost and the resultant traffic problems. In 2005, the cost of demolition was estimated at more than A$1 billion, and the traffic problems resulting from the removal of the link would be severe, given the lack of alternative routes[citation needed].

However, there are precedents; for example, in San Francisco in 1985, the Board of Supervisors voted to demolish the elevated Embarcadero Freeway which similarly divided the city from its waterfront. It was subsequently demolished after being damaged in the Loma Prieta earthquake. However, the Embarcardero Freeway was not a major route and could be easily replaced with a boulevard/expressway. The city of Boston also demolished a number of elevated expressways (feeding into and crossing the city) after building a 10-lane underground expressway in a project dubbed The Big Dig. The project, at the time the largest single civil engineering project in US history, took more than a decade to complete at a cost of USD14.6 billion.

Jeffrey Smart painting[edit]

One of Australian artist Jeffrey Smart's most famous works is Cahill Expressway (1962). The painting shows a stylised view of the Cahill Expressway tunnel and approach road, with a single man shown at the side of the image. The painting shows the alienation many feel when faced with the infrastructure of large freeways, especially when closely juxtaposed with pedestrian scale areas.[8]

Exits and interchanges[edit]

Cahill Expressway
Northwestbound exits Distance to
Sydney Harbour Bridge
(km)
Distance to
Sydney Airport
(km)
Southeastbound exits
End Cahill Expressway
continues as Bradfield Highway
to North Sydney / Newcastle
1 13 Start Cahill Expressway
from Bradfield Highway
Newcastle, Brisbane
Sydney Harbour Tunnel
2 12 Sydney CBD
Conservatorium Road
TUNNEL 2.2 11.8 TUNNEL
Sydney CBD
Macquarie Street
2.5 11.5 no exit
TUNNEL 3 11 TUNNEL
Start Cahill Expressway
continues from Eastern Distributor
Potts Point, Woolloomooloo
Cowper Wharf Roadway / Sir John Young Crescent
End Cahill Expressway
continues as Eastern Distributor
to Wollongong / Canberra
Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "1998 Special Article - The State of New South Wales - Timeline of History". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  2. ^ "How to Build a Street". Sydney Streets. City of Sydney. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  3. ^ The fast road to Brazil: Cahill's personal route to Rio by Thomas O'Brien (Sydney Morning Herald, 17 June 2013)
  4. ^ "New Year's Eve in your city". Today. Channel Nine. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  5. ^ "Opening up the Cahill Expressway won't be a dynamic change". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2002-12-03. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  6. ^ "History". Botanic Gardens Trust. NSW Department of Environment and Conservation. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  7. ^ "Cahill Expressway Demolition". Legislative Council Hansard (Extract). Parliament of New South Wales. 1994-09-15. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  8. ^ Corkery, Noel. "Re:Engineering The Landscape" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-08-15. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Cahill Expressway at Wikimedia Commons


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cahill_Expressway — Please support Wikipedia.
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13 news items

 
The Daily Telegraph
Mon, 07 Apr 2014 16:13:26 -0700

The three-vehicle crash at one point closed the Cahill Expressway citybound near near High Street, Milsons Point with traffic queues as long as 7km. The Harbour Tunnel approach was also affected. The taxi involved in the collision. Courtesy: Channel Seven.

Yahoo!7 News

Sydney Morning Herald
Mon, 07 Apr 2014 16:38:27 -0700

Citybound motorists north of the Sydney Harbour Bridge faced lengthy delays on Tuesday morning after a multi-vehicle crash involving a bus blocked all but one lane on the Cahill Expressway. Traffic flow returned to normal about 10.45am after emergency ...
 
NSW Police Online (press release)
Wed, 23 Apr 2014 17:11:15 -0700

... South Creek Road, Pittwater Road, Condamine Street, Burnt Bridge Creek Deviation, Manly Road, Spit Road, Military Road, Bradfield Highway, Cahill Expressway into Macquarie Street, Prince Albert Road, College Street, Park and Castlereagh Streets, ...
 
The Age
Sat, 12 Apr 2014 06:48:42 -0700

Although if we could just get rid of the Cahill Expressway, that will not be missed. Gordon smh.com.au. The plan actually sounds good. The car park will be the area converted into a hotel, Mrs Macquaries Chair will have more facilities (toilets and ...
 
Sydney Morning Herald
Mon, 07 Apr 2014 12:32:47 -0700

Stay with us, we're putting together a story with all the latest on the Cahill Expressway crash. Today, Chris Hammer will interview National MP John Williams on the free trade deal with Japan and Greens Senator Scott Ludlam on his triumph in WA and the ...

Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney Morning Herald
Sat, 05 Apr 2014 05:36:45 -0700

But in 1958 the greatest threat to the garden came via the Cahill Expressway. Fig Tree Avenue was partially destroyed and the continuity between the gardens and the Domain was lost. -. Autumn in the gardens, May 1959. Photo: Fairfax Archives. In 1959 ...

Sydney Morning Herald

Sydney Morning Herald
Thu, 10 Apr 2014 06:41:15 -0700

Apart from the abominable Cahill expressway and car park forced upon the trust of the day, many other attempts to alienate this sacred space were essentially rejected. May the current, sordid tourist-led attempted theft go the way of others in the past.
 
大纪元
Mon, 07 Apr 2014 23:00:00 -0700

【大纪元2014年04月08日讯】(大纪元记者张妮澳洲悉尼编译报导)周二(8日)早上,悉尼卡希尔高速公路(Cahill Expressway)发生车祸,海港大桥(Harbour Bridge)北面开往市区方向的所有通道仅一条开通,其余全部关闭了约 ...
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