The Greens are looking to kickstart the Thirroul tunnel, pledging $1.5 billion in federal funds for the project.
The tunnel would go through the escarpment – likely between Thirroul and Waterfall – cutting almost half an hour off the trip to Sydney.
Australian Greens Senator for NSW, Dr Mehreen Faruqi had pushed the tunnel project since she was a NSW senator.
Chief among her concerns was a NSW government report that found the tunnel would be substantially cheaper than the F6 extension.
Dr Faruqi said Illawarra commuters deserved better than a long 90-minute daily commute.
“We know what needs to be done, scrap the $18 billion dirty and polluting F6 toll road and instead build the Thirroul tunnel at a fraction of the cost,” Dr Faruqi said.
“The Greens will set aside $1.5 billion of federal funding to go towards the Thirroul tunnel. This will cover almost half the expected price tag and shave nearly 25 minutes off each trip.”
The funds will come from a reallocation of federal funding from toll roads to public transport.
“We know that the only way to reduce the commute time between Sydney and the Illawarra is to build the Thirroul tunnel,” she said.
“We just need to get on and do it.”
A 2014 NSW government report Rail Corridors Strategy Sydney to Wollongong estimated the construction costs as $3.6 billion, compared to the $8-$10 billion it would cost to build the F6 extension.
Last year Transport Minister Andrew Constance dismissed a Thirroul tunnel as “pixies at the bottom of the garden stuff”.
In 2017 he also said the Thirroul tunnel was “buried on page 30-odd” of the government report.
However, Dr Faruqu claimed Mr Constance had “lied”, pointing out the tunnel was mentioned on at least 12 of the report’s 42 pages.
“The fact that the minister knew exactly what the report said, and what the government needs to do to provide time savings for the people of the Illawarra, but multiple ministers in this government have kept the truth from the public,” Dr Faruqi said.