About this project

Project overview

The 40 kilometre, four-lane Hunter Expressway was constructed under two contracts.

Eastern Section: F3 to Kurri Kurri

The Hunter Expressway Alliance (Roads and Maritime Services, Thiess Pty Ltd, Parsons Brinckerhoff and Hyder Consulting) started construction on this 13 kilometre section of the project in August 2010.

The eastern section includes two grade-separated interchanges - at the F3 Freeway and at Buchanan, as well as overbridges at Seahampton Road and Averys Lane. Rest areas for light and heavy vehicles will be built on both sides of the expressway at Buchanan.

Three high bridges (or viaducts) span the steep gullies through the Sugarloaf Range and are located 1.4 to 2.7 kilometres west of the M1 Pacific Motorway. The viaducts have a total length of 787 metres and are up to 47 metres in height above the gully floors. This website has a video that explains how the high bridges are being built and it is available on the video library page.

Western section

Abigroup Contractors Pty Ltd started construction on the 27 kilometre western section of the project in April 2011 (design and construct contract).

The western section includes four grade-separated interchanges – at Kurri Kurri, Loxford, Allandale and Branxton. It also includes road bridge crossings at McLeod Road at Loxford, Old Maitland Road at Sawyers Gully, Camp Road at Allandale and Tuckers Lane at Greta.

Bridge construction also took place at various locations between Kurri Kurri and Branxton. By January 2012 more than 1.6 million cubic metres of soil had been moved. Abigroup had approximately 3 million cubic metres of earthworks as part of its construction.


The Australian Government funded $1.5 billion and the NSW Government up to $200 million to complete the project.

Open to traffic

The Hunter Expressway opened to traffic on 22 March 2014.

Project background

The Hunter Expressway has a long planning history and is now in the construction stage of the project. The Australian Government is funding $1.5 billion and the NSW Government up to $200 million to complete the project.

This $1.7 billion project involves the construction of a four lane freeway link between the F3 Freeway near Seahampton and the New England Highway, west of Branxton. The new expressway will provide a new eastwest connection between Newcastle and the Lower Hunter and is one of the biggest road infrastructure projects to be built in the Hunter.

The Hunter Expressway received planning approval in 2001. The conditions of approval required Roads and Maritime Services to reduce its ecological impact. To meet these conditions, Roads and Maritime Services modified the design to reduce clearing of native vegetation, including endangered ecological communities.

The modifications includes three key changes to the Hunter Expressway's design:

  • Realignment through the Sugarloaf Range and construction of three large bridges over deep gullies
  • Closure of Stanford Road, Stanford Merthyr, on both sides of the Hunter Expressway
  • Construction of a new interchange at Branxton to divert traffic onto the Hunter Expressway that otherwise would have travelled through Branxton on the New England Highway.

On 19 August 2007, the NSW Minister for Planning approved the modifications to the Hunter Expressway.


  • 40 kilometres of dual carriageway freeway
  • 52 bridges including 840 metres of high bridges through the Sugarloaf Range
  • Six grade separated interchanges located at the F3, Buchanan, Kurri Kurri, Loxford, Allandale and Branxton
  • A one kilometre reconstruction of South Maitland railway, including a new railway bridge.


  • Cut travel times between Newcastle and the Hunter by an estimated 28 minutes
  • Improve the efficiency of the national network
  • Provide a more direct and efficient route for freight movements between the Upper Hunter and the Port of Newcastle
  • Reduce the number of heavy vehicles travelling on the New England Highway through towns such as Branxton and Maitland
  • Relieve congestion on the New England Highway between Weakleys Drive and Branxton
  • Potentially reduce between 15,000 and 30,000 vehicles per day on the New England Highway, according to projected traffic levels in 2031 noted in The Lower Hunter Transport Needs Study
  • Support the growing Hunter region
  • Meet the growing freight task of the region.
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