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The Sydney Orbital Network is a 110 kilometre motorway standard ring-road or orbital around the city of Sydneymarker, the capital of New South Walesmarker in Australia. Planning for this beltway, orbital or ring road began as early as 1962 under the "county of cumberland scheme" (CCS) and well talked about as far back as 1944. Then from 1973 to 1989 things started to take shape with new sections opening-up and then further advancing by 1999. In 2007, the Lane Cove Tunnelmarker opened, completing the orbital network. It runs north from Sydney Airportmarker, underneath the CBD to the North Shore, west to the Hills District, south to Prestons and then east to connect with the airport. Much of the road is privately-owned and financed by tolls.

Motorways that make up the 110 kilometre orbital road

The Sydney orbital consists of several motorways and freeways, they are listed below:

The major sunken/underground sections of the orbital are:
  • Sydney Harbour Tunnel
  • Eastern Distributor
  • M5 East tunnel
  • Epping Tunnel (M2 Hills Motorway, although not really a major tunnel)
  • Sunken Section of the M2 Hills Motorway (The trench between Epping Road)
  • Lane Cove Tunnel

The major elevated sections are:
  • Parts of the Westlink M7
  • Parts of Southern Cross and General Holmes Drive (past the airport)

The widest part of the orbital is the Warringah Freeway approach to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the longest tunnel is the M5 East tunnel, and the largest interchange is the Light Horse Interchange between the M4 and M7. It would cost over $30AU to take the whole orbital without exiting once. The average width of the Orbital is 2 lanes (most of the M5, M7, Lane Cove tunnel and M2 is two lanes).


The Sydney Orbital Road Network consists of a number of roads built by private companies, tolling is unavoidable when using the road network.

Road Direction Toll Collection Method Toll Pricing Price Operator
Eastern Distributor Northbound Electronic / Cash Flat rate $5.00 Airport Motorways
M5 South Western Motorway Both Electronic / Cash Flat rate $3.80 Interlink Roads
Westlink M7 Both Electronic Distance based $0.3197/km, $6.48 Cap Transurban
M2 Hills Motorway Both Electronic / Cash Flat rate $4.95 Transurban
Lane Cove Tunnel Both Electronic Flat rate $2.72 Connector Motorways
Sydney Harbour Bridge Southbound Electronic Flat rate $3.00 RTA
Sydney Harbour Tunnel Southbound Electronic Time based Weekdays $3.00 (9.30am - 4pm) $4 (6.30am - 9.30am, 4pm - 7pm) $2.50 (7pm - 6.30am); Weekends $3 (8am - 8pm) $2 (8pm - 8am) RTA

Highway links

Intercity highways are linked to the Orbital, moving traffic away from the old busy National Routes. They are:

Proposed or missing freeway/motorway links

  • Link to the F3 Sydney-Newcastle Freeway – The final stage of a motorway standard Sydney Bypass, a tunnel under Pennant Hills Road is in the planning stages.
  • Link to the F6 Southern Freeway – At present, there are no plans to complete this link as freeway standard. The only section which was built is the Captain Cook Bridgemarker and its approaches. Land is still reserved north of this point through Sandringham, and south through the Royal National Parkmarker. This still leaves a considerable length of the corridor built out, which will require great expense to resume, or tunnel beneath.
  • Marrickville Tunnel – Proposal to link the orbital ring road at Port Botanymarker with the M4 Motorway, to remove commercial traffic from inner west surface roads.
  • M4 East – Extension of the M4 Motorway to the Anzac Bridgemarker. This proposal has been reviewed and cancelled following stiff community opposition, which cited encouraging additional commuter traffic into the CBD, whilst removing little commercial traffic from the area.


  1. RTA Website Motorways and tolling
  2. RTA Website The Sydney Harbour Bridge will be completely cash free from 11 January 2009.
  3. RTA Website - F3 to M2 link. F3 to Sydney Orbital link study SKM

External links

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