Part of the Sydney Orbital Motorway Network

Length: 7km

Northern Terminus: Adjoins the Eastern Distributor at Link Rd, Rosebery

Southern Terminus: The Grand Pde, Brighton-Le-Sands

Route Markers: Metroad 1

Construction Timeline:

1919 - General Holmes Drive constructed (2-lanes)
May 1951 - General Holmes Drive duplicated
Jan 1965 - Mill Pond Rd opened
Oct 1969 - Southern Cross Drive (Link Rd to Wentworth Ave)
Oct 1979 - Foreshore Rd opened
Feb 1988 - Southern Cross Drive (Wentworth Ave to Foreshore Rd)
Dec 1999 - Southern Cross Drive widened to 6 lanes (Botany Rd to Link Rd)
Oct 2001 - Airport Tunnel widened from 6 to 9 lanes
Dec 2001 - M5 East connection opened

The story of Southern Cross Drive & General Holmes Drive:

Southern Cross Drive and General Holmes Drive are two adjoining aerterial roads that have been upgraded to freeway standard as part of the Sydney Orbital Motorway system. Although not officially classified as a freeway or motorway, UBD has begun to show these roads as freeways in their newer maps, while the RTA is relying on them to complete their hallmark project - the Sydney Orbital. Currently the route is part of Metroad 1 and is generally 6 lanes wide, with twin two-lane viaducts over Mill Pond Rd and a 9-lane section through the Airport Tunnel.

The first section of this complex of arterial roads was General Holmes Drive from Brighton-Le-Sands to Botany Rd at Mascot. Prior to the closure of the North Brighton Sewerage Treatment Works in 1917, agitation had commenced for construction of a road through the area. The road was proclaimed a National Work in April 1917 and construction was undertaken by the NSW Department of Public Works to link Botany Rd with The Grand Pde. The road was opened to traffic in 1919.

General Holmes Drive was also the first 'county road' to be upgraded as part of the County of Cumberland Scheme - the upgrade to 6 lanes including a new Endeavour Bridge over the Cooks River opening to traffic in May 1951. The upgrade was necessitated by the expansion of the Airport and the realignment of the Cooks River channel. Mill Pond Road was later constructed to bypass the bottleneck at the Mascot Railway Crossing, opening to traffic in January 1965.

Meanwhile, the city was reached via Botany Rd or O'Riordan St - the latter being lined with tanneries that emitted a lovely odour. The first stage of Southern Cross Drive - included as a County Road in the County of Cumberland Planning Scheme - was rumoured to have had its construction fastracked to provide a more convenient access to the Airport for politicains, avoiding the tanneries that lined O'Riordan Street. Regardless of the reason, the first stage from South Dowling St at Rosebery to Wentworth Ave at Eastlakes was opened to traffic in October 1969. This stage was built with provision for the extension of the road to General Holmes Drive, however, this extension was not constructed immediately and it was not opened to traffic until February 1988.

Meanwhile, General Holmes Drive received a new grade-separated interchange in October 1979 when the Foreshore Road opened to traffic. The interchange provides an overpass for southbound traffic, while northbound traffic bypasses the traffic signals which are reached by a right-hand exit. This interchange was later modified slightly to provide for the Southern Cross Drive Extension viaducts.

Since 1988 the only improvements have been some widening and associated reconstruction - November 1999 marked the completion of Southern Cross Drive's widening to 6 lanes between Botany Rd and South Dowling St. While the Airport Tunnel was widened from 6 to 8 lanes and a tidal flow system was introduced as part of the construction of the M5 East Motorway, the widening completed in Oct 2001 while the motorway opened to traffic in December 2001.

Explore Southern Cross Drive & General Holmes Drive:

Interactive Map: M5 to Wentworth Ave

Photos of Southern Cross Drive & General Holmes Drive
Southern Cross Drive looking north over the Australian Golf Course, Kensington. 1970. (DMR)
Looking south over Gardeners Rd, Eastlakes. 1970. (DMR)
Another 1970 view of Southern Cross Drive just south of Gardeners Rd. (DMR)
Looking east over Wentworth Ave during construction in 1969. Southern Cross Drive stopped here until 1988. (DMR)
Original 1988 AD sign still with many coverplates - the most significant one is the Metroad 1 shield which covers both NR1 and SR64. Feb 1998.
Old overhead signs at the Mill Pond Rd off-ramp. Nov 1998.
Aerial view of construction of the Foreshore Rd interchange. 1978. (DMR)
Aerial view of construction of the Foreshore Rd interchange. 1979. (DMR)
Aerial view of Foreshore Rd & General Holmes Drive interchange. 1980. (DMR)
Original 1988 overhead signage at Foreshore Rd - note Metroad 1 is on a coverplate over NR1 and SR64 below that. Nov 1999.
A view of the northbound lanes of General Holmes Dr prior to the upgrading in 2001. Nov 1999.
Another view of General Holmes Drive prior to upgrading. Jan 1994.

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