The City West Cycle Link is a tunnel proposed by a couple of local cycling groups as a direct hill-free and traffic light-free method of riding between the western end of Lilyfield Road and any Anzac Bridge-bound cycleway which may be built within the Rozelle rail yard.

The idea is that while Westconnex (WCX) happens to have a dozen road headers (tunnel digging machines) at the rail yard to build the detested Rozelle Interchange, they might as well build an extra tunnel for cyclists which would roughly parallel the Light Rail line.

Some suggest that, rather than doing a tunnel, the road headers should hollow out the northern side of the light rail cutting to provide this cycle route. However  this would need the light rail line to be closed while digging proceeded which is not going to be possible, given that the peak hour passenger load has reached crush level and the rest of the day seats can be hard to find.

I have done some calculations based on the assumption that tunnelling costs and times can be scaled from WCX Homebush to St Peters and M5 tunnelling data. The WCX tunnels (there are two - one for each traffic direction) are dug to 17m wide with side height of 5m and a crown height of 7m. The WCX tunnels are 33km long and the scheme was advertised to cost $17 Billion which translates to a cost of $2525/m^3 of tunnel volume or $515 million/km. Tunnelling proceeded at a maximum rate of about 3.3m per 24 hour day per tunnel face (Cintra Park dive site).

I guess that a suitable bidirectional cycle tunnel could be 6m wide with 3m side height and 4m crown height. The tunnel would be 1km long, starting at the northern end of Charles Street and finishing at the cliff at the western end of the rail yard.

Such a tunnel would take 62 days to dig and further days to fit out with lighting, smooth road surface, drainage and closed circuit TV security cameras (to protect vulnerable riders, detect accidents and deter vandals). Fire protection jet fans and sprinklers as well as mobile phone relay units may also be necessary.

It would cost a total of $53 million. In view of the $1.7 million budget for the construction cost of the Lilyfield Cycleway, I suggest that it has little hope of being funded by the present government.

It would also be a pretty boring ride, in artificial light with nothing to look at except one's fellow riders and there would be no Strava value at all.

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It’d only take about 3 minutes to ride it, much less boring than pedaling up Lilyfield Rd! It would have a slight uphill/downhill profile for drainage, so would be a nice cruise for half of it.

2.4 m height is probably enough, you’d think, and 5 m wide? 

I rode up LF Rd hill today. No traffic, so I did a bit of zigzagging to ease the gradient. Shameful I know, but it works. 


Pat, you have a choice. Either cough up the thirty or fifty million dollars yourself or get the cyclists, who might benefit from this tunnel, active politically. Otherwise, don't hold your breath waiting for action.

Propose a toll on the bicycle tunnel and Macquarie Bank might get interested

G'day Bob,

the usual drainage gradient is 1%, so it wouldn't be too bad even going "up-hill".

If you reduced the tunnel cross section to 5 x 2.4m (12m^2) then perhaps the cost might reduce to $36 million.

Bear in mind that there would be a minimum size set by the supposition that a spare WCX road header would dig it - they are big machines. Also you would need a couple of Moxis (off-road trucks) to haul out the spoil and they have a minimum size too.

On the other hand I was once involved in a sewage tunnel dig near Gosford and we had this cute little 1m high train affair to haul out the spoil and the face was progressed by drilling and blasting. However this is special sort of kit and not what WCX uses. Even the WCX pedestrian emergency evacuation cross passages are dug 4.8m high.

Lilyfield Road is too steep for our aging bodies, Bob, so try my favourite Behind-the-Noise-Wall route which follows a shared path at the gentle WCX gradient from Charles Street (potentially from Canal Road!) to Derbyshire Road.

I think Council passed a resolution last meeting to include the BTSW route in the feasibility studies they are asking for TfNSW to do on the CWCL. Certainly the path from Norton St to Henry St is already quite good and it could be extended to Balmain Rd.


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