Artist's impression of tunnel

The NorthConnex underground motorway – Australia’s longest road tunnel project – will feature backlit silhouettes of birds, trees and stars to provide visual interest for road users travelling between the Hills M2 Motorway and M1 Pacific Motorway. 

NorthConnex Project Director, Daniel Banovic, explained how the lighting will improve safety for drivers.

“International research has demonstrated that in monotonous road environments, it is important to provide subtle stimulants to keep drivers alert and focussed. This can be through gentle curves in the road and visual displays.

“NorthConnex is incorporating a series of contemporary internal lighting features never before seen in Australia to keep drivers engaged as they travel through the nine kilometre tunnel.”

The light display draws inspiration from international best practice and was informed by a research partnership between the Australian Government, Transport for NSW, Austroads, UNSW and Transurban into human behaviours inside tunnels. 

At the entrance portals, motorists will pass swooping flocks of native Australian bird silhouettes resembling eagles, cockatoos, galahs, and lorikeets.

The northbound tunnel will include sections of backlit forest silhouettes, accompanied by organic patterned panelling, reflecting the journey to Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park.

The southbound tunnel will include starscape and speedlines lighting displays, which will be complemented by geometric panels symbolising the transition from the rural environment of the north, to the urban environment of the city. 

“The lighting effects and graphic panelling are placed strategically along the tunnel alignment to provide just the right amount of visual interest to keep drivers attentive,” Mr Banovic said.

“A new innovative lighting control system will manage the tunnel which will provide improved safety outcomes for motorists, significant energy savings and reduced carbon emissions.”

NorthConnex will also use light emitting diode (LED) technology throughout the entire tunnel.

NorthConnex will use more than 5,500 LED lights in place of traditional high pressure sodium (HPS) or florescent lighting technology to reduce electricity consumption by 18 per cent annually.

This equates to an overall reduction in carbon emissions of approximately 350 tonnes during the first year of operation alone.

To view the in-tunnel lighting displays in the Urban Design Landscape plan, by visit

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