Heavy trucks will be fined for travelling on some roads under measures being developed by the O'Farrell government to push them into new motorway tunnels.
Roads Minister Duncan Gay says he will fine heavy vehicles that continue to drive along Pennant Hills Road once a new motorway tunnel is built linking the M2 with the M1 in northern Sydney by 2019. The tunnel is expected to take 5000 trucks a day off the road.
And it is understood the principle could also be applied to the WestConnex motorway being planned to run under Parramatta Road.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Premier Barry O'Farrell announced on Sunday the successful tender for the M2 to M1 motorway. Construction is due to start on the motorway either later this year or in the first half of 2015.
The motorway - to be called NorthConnex - will include twin nine-kilometre tunnels, and charge tolls roughly in line with those charged on the M2. At the moment, that is $6.11 for cars and $18.32 for trucks.
The tolls will make up the bulk of funding for the $3 billion motorway, with the federal and state governments each chipping in $405 million. The federal funding was first promised under the former Labor government, but has been continued under the Coalition.
Ventilation stacks will be built at either end of the tunnel, near Wahroonga in the north and near a Pennant Hills Road interchange in the south, though there remains little detail about that.
The prospect of fines for trucks that do not use the motorway is sure to rile the trucking industry, though the government will claim trucking operators will save wear and tear on their vehicles because they will not have to run through 21 sets of lights.
Trucks making local deliveries will be exempt from the fines, as well as smaller trucks and those not allowed to enter tunnels.
"We're looking at signage and detection equipment to capture those trucks that don't have a genuine destination along Pennant Hills Road or are not approved to travel within tunnels for safety reasons,'' Mr Gay said.
"We are looking at a fine to ensure heavy vehicles use NorthConnex once it's open to traffic in 2019.''
Toll-road company Transurban proposed the motorway to the O'Farrell government as an unsolicited proposal. A joint venture between Lend Lease and Bouygues has won the tender to build it.
Sunday's announcement demonstrated that the financing of the tunnel will be reliant on large tolls from the trucking industry. Fairfax Media has been told that the principle of compelling trucks to use the WestConnex motorway is something the government is keen to discuss with the industry.
The tunnels will be built with the capacity for three lanes in each direction, but will be initially lane-marked for two. The government expects about 30 per cent of cars that now use Pennant Hills Road to use the tunnel, and about 50 per cent of trucks.
The NorthConnex will be built with higher tunnels than other Sydney motorways, to help prevent trucks getting stuck in it.
The Prime Minister conceded no new federal money was behind Sunday's announcement but said that unlike the previous federal Labor government, he would make sure the project was executed.
''This is now on the high road to construction and completion in a way that you could never be sure of under the former government in Canberra,'' Mr Abbott said.
Mr O'Farrell provided a guarantee the project would be completed by 2019.
With Jacqueline Maley