Metroad 6: History and Development

Metroad 6 is Sydney's newest north-south arterial road link, forming the most direct link between the F3 (Sydney-Newcastle) and the F6 (Southern) Freeways. It passes right through the geographical heart of Sydney, serving such important centres as Silverwater, Sydney Olympic Park, Auburn, Bankstown and Menai - the latter being an area of rapid urban growth over the last thirty years. Most of the route has been systematically constructed on deviations provided for in the County of Cumberland Planning Scheme 1951 that connected existing local and and main roads to form a through route.

Metroad 6 was first recognised as a through route in 1974 when it was given the State Route 45 shield from Ermington to Heathcote, although it was another fifteen years before large portions of the road were declared Main Roads. In early 1999 it was bestowed with the Metroad 6 shield, cementing its place as one of the most important arterials in Sydney.


Setting the Scene

In 1928 the newly formed Main Roads Board proclaimed Main Road No. 190, stretching from the Great Western Highway (Parramatta Rd) at Lidcombe, via John St, Joseph St and Rookwood Rd to the Hume Highway at Bankstown. Prior to World War 2 the Main Road No. 190 designation was extended south via Chapel Road to Canterbury Rd at Bankstown.

At this stage, major parts of the current route were nothing more than local roads. Silverwater Road ended at the south side of the Parramatta River, Davies Road was no more than a local road with a railway overpass and Alfords Point Road did not exist. A poor-quality road existed from the south side of the Georges River at Illawong, through Menai to Engadine via 'The Needles' crossing of the Woronora River.

During World War 2 the Department of Main Roads constructed a number of defence routes, including the construction of Heathcote Road and a new road (named New Illawarra Rd) between Lucas Heights and Heathcote Rd, bypassing the causeway crossing of the Woronora River at 'The Needles'. These works were completed during 1941.


County of Cumberland Planning Scheme

The Cumberland County Council was created in 1948 to prepare a town planning scheme to control and manage Sydney's future growth. With help from the Department of Main Roads, the County of Cumberland Planning Scheme provided a County Road reservation for a north-south at-grade urban arterial between Heathcote and Carlingford, along the present route. Appropriate reservations were gazetted in 1951 and the Department of Main Roads began acquiring land.


starts the ball rolling

The first improvements to the route came not from the Department of Main Roads but from the Federal Government's ANSTO (Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation) who made the decision in 1954 to build a nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights. In November 1955 a short deviation of 'New Illawarra Road' was completed, allowing work to begin on the research laboratories site. The Lucas Heights research laboratories were officially opened by Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies on 18 April 1958.


The 1960s

Meanwhile, the Department of Main Roads was working on designs for a new bridge across the Parramatta River at Silverwater - the first to be constructed since the Ryde Bridge opened in December 1935. The four-lane pre-stressed concrete structure and northern approach road which connects with Victoria Road at Ermington was completed in November 1962. In my humble opinion the construction of a four-lane bridge was a big mistake, with Silverwater Road widening to six lanes in 1968. Now, a four-lane bridge separates two sections of six-lane road.

Other work completed prior to 1964 was the construction of Olympic Drive at Lidcombe - a new arterial road skirting the eastern edge of Watt Park and connecting to the railway underpass at Bridge Street. The name 'Olympic Drive' suggests it may have been constructed in the early 1950s, prior to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. This new route provided a much needed alternative route across the railway line at Lidcombe and it superceded John Street as the main route when the Silverwater Bridge opened. Olympic Drive was gazetted as part of Main ROad No. 190 on 15 April 1955, however this probably followed actual construction by at least one year.

Also completed prior to 1964 was the establishment of a one-way street system in the vicinity of Bankstown Station, utilising parts of The Mall, Fetherstone St, Restwell St and Greenfield Pde.

The late sixties also saw the commencement of construction of a new bridge over the railway line, connecting Stacey Street North and Stacey Street South at Bankstown. The 295 foot long, six-lane wide concrete bridge replaced a footbridge over the railway line at the same location and was opened to traffic on 21 May 1970.


The Alfords Point Deviation

On 1 August 1970 the Department of Main Roads called tenders for the construction of a bridge near Alfords Point to provide a major road crossing of the Georges River from Padstow to Menai. The project consisted of an eleven span, 1457 feet long bridge and 3.6km of approach roads connecting Davies Road at Padstow with Old Illawarra Road at Illawong. "The new bridge and the recently completed bridge over the railway line at Stacey Street, Bankstown are btoh situated on the planned arterial route from the northern suburbs, Parramatta and Bankstown areas to Menai, Sutherland and the South Coast. The new bridge will reduce traffic problems on the Georges River Bridge at Tom Uglys Point"1 and replace the 16-car punt across the river at Lugarno.

The bridge and approach roads were constructed so that at first only one carriageway of ultimate twin, three-lane carriageways would be used, and duplication would require only minor earthworks. The northern approach was constructed with three lanes (2 northbound, 1 southbound) and a temporary at-grade intersection was provided at Clancy Street. Second stage work saw the construction of an underpass and a full diamond interchange, with direct connection to Davies Road. The southern approach was constructed with three lanes and generally followed the alignment of an existing unsealed 'Alfords Point Road'. The piers for the second bridge were also constructed so as to provide minimal disruption when the road and bridge is eventually duplicated.

The Alfords Point Deviation was officially opened on 7 September 1973.

In 1974 the route from Ermington via Silverwater Rd, St Hilliers Rd, Rawson St, Olympic Dr, Bridge St, Joseph St, Rookwood Rd, Hume Hwy, Stacey St, Canterbury Rd, Fairford Rd, Davies Rd, Alfords Pt Rd, Old Illawarra Rd, New Illawarra Rd and Heathcote Rd to Heathcote was given the State Route 45 shield.


More deviations

The coming of the 1980s saw an increase in works on the Metroad 6 corridor, which was inlcuded in the Department of Main Roads' Roads 2000 publication as the 'Silverwater Arterial' in 1987. The Silverwater Arterial shown in Roads 2000 stretched from the Pacific Hwy at Hornsby to the Princes Hwy at Heathcote, including a section of the now Cumberland Hwy. Projects proposed under the plan included the Silverwater Rd extension, a bypass at Lidcombe, widening and deviations at Bankstown and widening from Canterbury Rd south to Lucas Heights.

Duplication of Stewart Street at Dundas was completed in December 1980, along with the reconstruction of its junction with Kissing Point Road to favour east-west traffic. Just prior to this, Marsden Road was realigned between Stewart Street and Lawson Street to eliminate two tight corners in 1979.

Construction began on the Lidcombe Bypass in 1982 which encompassed widening Bede Street to six lanes and connecting it to Bridge Street at its northern end and Joseph Street at its southern end. The 'Bede Street Deviation' was opened to traffic in March 1986 but work was not fully completed until June 1988.

To connect between Stacey Street and Fairford Road, traffic had to dog-leg onto a short, narrow section of Canterbury Road. The first step towards providing a direct link between Stacey Street and Fairford Road came in 1983 with the completion of a six-lane deviation between Macauley Ave and Stacey Street South near Arkley Street. The next stage involved construction of a six-lane overpass (striped as four) across Canterbury Road. This overpass was opened in December 1986.

In July 1989 an overhaul of the legal classifications of the route was undertaken. Prior to this, large portions of the route were Secondary Roads - a classification which did not reflect its growing importance as a major through route. Subsequently the whole route from Ermington to Heathcote Rd was proclaimed Main Road No. 190.

At the southern end, the growing traffic volumes caused by rapid urbanisation of the Menai district were taking their toll on the Alfords Point Deviation. A tidal flow system was introduced to the bridge over the Georges River in February 1989, providing an extra lane for traffic in the direction of peak flow. Previously, the bridge had been operating with two lanes. The extension of Alfords Point Road south as a four-lane undivided, but grade-separated road from Old Illawarra Rd at Illawong to Menai Rd at Menai was completed in December 1992 and this included the widening of the the southern approach to the Alfords Point Bridge to four lanes. Provision has been made for future duplication of the Alfords Point Rd extension. Fairford Rd and Davies Road widening was also undertaken at this time and was completed by 1995.

For many years following the construction of Silverwater Bridge, Silverwater Road terminated at Victoria Road, Ermington. This situation was hardly ideal as there was no nearby north-south route for through traffic to connect to. However, there was a reservation preserved from the County of Cumberland Planning Scheme which provided for a grade-separated, limited access extension of Silverwater Road to Kissing Point Road and Stewart Street at Dundas. The decision was made to construct the extension as an at-grade, limited access road and a short section opened to traffic in January 1985 between Kissing Point Rd and Kingsford St. Progress ont eh project stalled until 1993 when construction of the overpass at Victoria Road was commenced. The extension of Silverwater Rd was completed and opened to traffic in January 1996. Upon opening of the Silverwater Road extension, State Route 45 was extended north from Ermington to Carlingford via Stewart Street and Marsden Road.


State Route 45 becomes
Metroad 6

In early 1999 the last of the major deviations proposed in the Roads 2000 plan, the Stacey Street Deviation between Rookwood Rd and Hume Hwy at Bankstown, was opened to traffic. This eliminated a notorious dog-leg in the route and it was consequently rewarded with inclusion in the Sydney metroad system as Metroad 6. Its numbering as Metroad 6, a number which was not used in the original allocation of route numbers, suggests that the route was planned for inclusion originally but there was a need to wait until a few major works had been completed.

Following the opening of the Westlink M7 motorway, and the subsequent truncation of Metroad 7 at Beecroft, Metroad 6 was extended north along Pennant Hills Rd from Carlingford to Beecroft, now terminating at the M2 Motorway/Pennant Hills Rd interchange. Metroad 6 signage was installed in March 2006 after the Metroad 7 shields had earlier been covered with blacnk coverplates.


Recent Improvements

and the future

On the 7th of February 2005 the Bangor Bypass was officially opened to traffic. The north-south link of this project, which now forms part of Metroad 6 - New Illawarra Road, bypasses a narrow section of Old Illawarra Road at Menai and a notorious dog-leg bottleneck near Menai Town Centre. However, the bypass was not constructed to its full extent and now terminates just north of Marsden Road, Barden Ridge. There is a reservation for extensions of the bypass towards Heathcote Road although no official plans for construction have been released. There have been calls for the construction of a deviation to eliminate the narrow, winding section of Heathcote Rd between Lucas Heights and Heathcote but again official plans have been released.

1. Department of Main Roads; Main Roads Vol. 36 No. 1; September 1970; p.23

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