The NSW government is looking at reintroducing tolls in both directions on the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Photo: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

Commuting across the Sydney Harbour Bridge could double in price with the New South Wales government considering plans to add a second, northbound toll.

Fairfax Media and the ABC have leaked NSW Cabinet documents that reveal the government is looking at the additional $3 toll from 2022 for both the harbour bridge and tunnel to help pay for the $14 billion Northern Beaches and Western Harbour tollways.

NSW roads minister Melinda Pavey did not rule out the proposal, saying the government was exploring “funding options and delivery approaches” but no decisions had been made.

It’s not the first time with idea has been floated, with the $17 billion WestConnex project sparking similar suggestions two years ago as part of an overhaul of pricing on Sydney’s tolled roads network.

While peak tolling, which varies the price between $4 and $2.50, with a $3 shoulder, was introduced in 2009, the Cabinet proposal suggests $3 each way. That would see motorists travelling from Sydney airport to the city’s northside paying more than $10 in tolls if they use the Eastern Distributor.

Like other tolls run by private operators around Sydney, the price for the harbour bridge and tunnel toll would then increase with the CPI.

When the Sydney Harbour Bridge first opened, it had a toll both ways to pay for its construction. When the bridge was finally paid off in 1988, then Liberal premier Nick Greiner announced plans for the harbour tunnel and increased the toll by 400% to $1. By the time the tunnel was complete in 1992, it had doubled again to $2, then jumped again to $3 in 2004.

Only southbound motorists currently pay the toll, so with around 150,000 cars using the Harbour Bridge daily, while 90,000 use the tunnel, the new northbound toll would tip at least $500,000 a day more into government coffers.

The ABC says the Cabinet documents the money would help underwrite plans for the $14-billion northern beaches tunnel link between Rozelle, in the city’s inner west, and Seaforth. That trip is priced at $8 one way, with the link between Seaforth and North Sydney costing $5, and the Western Harbour tunnel between Birchgrove and Waverton costing $3.

The truck charge is three times higher – meaning a return trip between the city and northern beaches would set a truckie back $48.

The documents also show the government hopes to have the Western Harbour Tunnel up and running in just over six years in October 2023, while the Northern Beaches link would open 12 months later in October 2024.

The ABC has more here.

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