The "unforgiving" Picton Road will get $44 million in this month's state budget to investigate duplicating the road from Mt Ousley to the Hume Motorway.
Transport and Roads Minister Andrew Constance made the announcement on Monday morning, along with a further $35 million to duplicate Heathcote Road.
"They're unforgiving roads," Mr Constance said. "They're narrow in parts and have got high traffic volumes.
"The crash rates at both roads are unacceptable. They're at levels where we've unfortunately seen too many lives lost. In the last five years alone on Picton Road we've seen 10 lives lost. A lot of head-ons happening because we're dealing with unforgiving roads and also dealing with major truck thoroughfares."
Mr Constance said the $44 million for Picton Road would be delivered over the next four years, for planning to improve safety and connectivity along the road.
"The funding will also support the completion of the concept design, environmental assessment and planning approvals, and allow the development of the final business case and detailed design of the upgrade," Mr Constance said.
"Picton Road is a major arterial road providing connection between the Hume Highway at Wilton and the Princes Highway near Mt Ousley, linking Port Kembla, the Illawarra region and the south coast with Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.
"This commitment will allow Transport for NSW to complete the strategic business case for the upgrade, as well as finalise modelling and options testing at the Picton Road and Hume Highway interchange."
The strategic case for Picton Road, including preferred upgrades, is due to be completed in the second half of next year and will "tease out" the danger spots along the route.
Once that business case is completed, work will start on concept and detailed design.
Mr Constance said Picton Road was "important" as it would be the main link between the Illawarra and the new western Sydney airport.
Formed earlier this year, the Picton Road Motorway Coalition has been pushing for upgrades for the road.
Illawarra Business Chamber executive director Adam Zarth is one of the members and he was pleased with the government's announcement.
"Today's announcement is the answer we have been waiting for from government to the question posed by our campaign for the upgrade of Picton Road to motorway standard," Mr Zarth said.
Wollondilly Mayor Robert Khan was pleased to see the first step in upgrading "this important but dangerous corridor" along with the "urgently required upgrade" to the Wilton interchange.
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