CUMBERLAND HIGHWAY: History and Development

State Highway No. 13 (named Cumberland Highway in August 1988) was declared one of the original thirteen State Highways selected by the Main Roads Board for proclamation on 8 August 1928. The declared route was from the junction of Pacific Hwy (then Great Northern Hwy) and Pennant Hills Rd at Pearces Corner (Wahroonga) via Pennant Hills Rd, Church St and Woodville (then Dog Trap) Road to the junction of Hume Highway and Woodville Rd at Lansdowne. This unnamed highway would provide the main route for through traffic between the Pacific and Hume Highways.

Major improvements first came to highway in the post war years through the widening of the road to four lanes. Commenced in the early 1950s, the highway was widening to four lanes over nearly two decades - the final stage, between Murray Farm Rd and Thompsons Corner at West Pennant Hills, was completed in 1967.

During the 1970s the Department of Main Roads' plans for a Parramatta Ring Road were pursued and construction of the northern section which is now part of the Cumberland Highway, between Pennant Hills Road and the M4 Motorway at Wentworthville, was undertaken. The first stage, with joined with previous ones to the south, was opened between Pennant Hills Road and Windsor Road in September 1979. Exactly one year later the underpass at Windsor Road was opened to traffic, in September 1980, and the bypass officially extended to Kleins Road. In December 1981 a further section, involving the widening of Briens Road and the construction on a new alignment of Old Windsor Road, was opened between Kleins Rd and Harris Rd, including the new Old Windsor Rd between Toongabbie Creek and Hammers Rd. At this stage the Parramatta Ring Road had not been officially chosen as the future route of the State Highway No. 13.


August 1988:
The big change

As part of the County of Cumberland Planning Scheme of 1951 a new County Road (the name given to road proposals from the CCPS) was proposed from the Great Western Highway at Wentworthville to the Hume Highway at Liverpool as a continuation of the southwestern edge of the Parramatta Ring Road. This proposed road was subsequently proclaimed Secondary Road No. 2070.

In 1984 the State Government announced that the Department of Main Roads had prepared plans for a 'Cumberland Highway' along the Secondary Road No. 2070 corridor. This new highway would supercede the Church Street/Woodville Rd route as the major connection between the Pacific and Hume Highways, utilise the Parramatta Ring Road then under construction and allow the closure of Church St, Parramatta and the construction of a pedestrian mall.

The existing roads of Hart Drive, Freame St, Emert St, Jersey Rd, Betts Rd, Warren Rd, Smithfield Rd, Palmerston Rd, Cambridge St, Joseph St and Orange Grove Rd would be widened to four and six lanes and connected with each other to form one continuous urban arterial. Some of this work had already been completed through the course of urban development in the 1970s and early 80s and thus the Department of Main Roads commenced work on the remaining projects. The widening of Pennant Hills Road north of the proposed M2 Motorway was also included as part of the construction program, although this would be undertaken at a later date.

The first item of the program to be complete was Stage 5 of the Parramatta Bypass, a six lane access controlled road (Hart Drive) from Harris Rd to the Freame St railway underpass at Wenworthville. This was opened to traffic in February 1986. The next year, In November 1987, the Bypass was extended south to join an upgraded Emert Street and the Great Western Highway. In August 1988 the final link, between the Great Western Highway and Jersey Road was opened to traffic and along with it came the proclamation of the new route of State Highway No. 13 and its naming as the Cumberland Highway. This new highway was given the State Route 77 shield, replacing the former State Route 55 shield along Pennant Hills Rd.

Photos of the former route of Cumberland Highway can be found HERE.



Following the opening of the new highway route, widening and upgrading of the route continued. Pennant Hills Rd was widened from four to six lanes between the newly opened F3 at Wahroonga and Boundary Rd at Pennant Hills (December 1990) and further south to Copeland Rd (July 1995) and to Murray Farm Rd in May 1997.

A grade-separated interchange was constructed at the five-way intersection of Polding St, Smithfield Rd and Palmerston Rd at Fairfield West in September 1993, and in July 1995 a tunnel opened allowing an unimpeded passage for eastbound-to-southbound traffic at the intersection of Pennant Hills Rd and Castle Hill Rd, Thompsons Corner. Several bridges in the Canley Heights area and a bridge across Prospect Creek at Smithfield were also widened to six lanes in work completed in July 1995. The final upgrade was completed by the RTA in June 2002 - the widening to six lanes between Merrylands Rd and Prospect Creek, Woodpark. This work will probably be the last undertaken on the highway as it has been bypassed by the Westlink M7 as the major route through Sydney.

The State Route 77 shield was replaced by Metroad 7 in 1993.


The Future

In January 1994 the Cumberland Highway (and Hume Highway between the Liverpool and Prestons) was proclaimed part of the National Highway system as the interim Sydney Urban Link. As a prelude to this declaration, a 'Liverpool-Hornsby Highway Strategy' study was undertaken in 1993 resulting in the recommendations of a bypass of the Sydney urban area, by way of Wallgrove Rd and the M2 Motorway west of Pennant Hills Rd. Several options were assessed, including the Prospect Arterial (a corridor reserved by the County of Cumberland Planning Scheme with a view to being constructed as an urban arterial bypass of Sydney) but in the end an alignment from the Cross Roads via Wallgrove Rd and the Philip Parkway was chosen. This new National Highway corridor - the Westlink M7 - was opened in December 2005.

The following route marking changes were effective immediately but it took the RTA several months to change signs to indicate most of the new changes:

- Metroad 7 truncated at M2 Motorway (now only exists on Pennant Hills Rd between the M2 and Pacific Hwy)

- Metroad 6 extended from Marsden Rd, Carlingford to the M2 via Pennant Hills Rd

- Alpha-numeric route M7 introduced along the Westlink M7 and the M2 Motorway (west of Pennant Hills Rd)

Eventually, it is anticipated that Metroad 7 will be decommissioned completely and replaced by alpha-numeric route A7 or M7. I am unsure whether Cumberland Highway will be decommissioned as a State Highway or not.

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