NSW FREEWAY ROUTES
A defunct numbering system from the 1970s
END F6 1km signage northbound on the Southern Freeway near Mt Keira Rd. Its surprising that this sign survived the widening of this freeway in 1999/2000. July 2004.
Freeway Routes were introduced as a new route marking system in 1973 specially designed for the freeways. The freeways already had their own special "freeway green" sign backgrounds and now they were given special route markers to increase the awareness of motorists that they are on a freeway. To be honest these routes had very little navigational benefits as at the time many freeways were in small segmented pieces and so were the freeway routes. Their importance was also lessened by the fact that the National Routes were moved onto the freeways aswell, leaving most freeways with two different route numbers and markers.
The numbering for the routes was taken directly from the Department of Main Roads' freeway proposal numbering unlike the Victorian system which had route numbers in the 80s and 90s. The routes were never officially deommissioned as far as i know, the shields were just never installed on new signage after about 1980. The Department of Main Roads makes no reference to freeway routes in its 1982 maps of route numbers in NSW.
The designated freeway routes are explained in more detail below:
F1 - Warringah Freeway:
Signed between Harbour Bridge and Willoughby Rd but planned to extend further north - possibly all the way to Narabeen - with future extensions of the Warringah Freeway. The Warringah Freeway was never extended and neither was the F1 route. Signage lasted until near the opening of the Gore Hill Freeway in 1992.
F2 - Gore Hill Freeway & Castlereagh Freeway
This designation was unusual in that it was to be segmented even following ultimate construction. There was no official plans for a connection between these two sections of freeway - the Lane Cove Tunnel was not mooted until the early 1990s - as city traffic from the Castlereagh Freeway was to be served by the F3 (Lane Cove Valley and North Western) Freeway(s) from North Ryde to the CBD. No section of the F2 was constructed in time to receive the F2 shield; the Gore Hill Fwy opened in 1992 and the Hills Motorway in 1997.
F3 - North Western, Lane Cove Valley and Sydney-Newcastle Freeways
This route was never signposted as far as i know; signage on the Sydney-Newcastle Freeway omitting the F3 shield as early as 1979. Possible reasons for this include the very segmented nature of construction (in 1973 there were three separate sections of freeway with up to 30km between sections) and the fact that a major section of the freeway was actually a tollway.
F4 - Western Freeway
This route was the first to be signposted - on the western section of the freeway from Prospect to Emu Plains in 1974. By the time the eastern section of freeway from North Strathfield to Auburn was constructed it seemed that freeway routes had been forgotten as the F4 never appeared on the new signs. The last F4 shields probably disappeared in about 1992 - when the freeway became Metroad 4.
F5 - South Western Freeway (including the Hume Highway to Mittagong)
This route was first signed in 1973 between The Cross Roads and Raby and was extended to Narellan Rd in 1974. As far as i know that is as far south as the route number ever went, signs dating from the opening of the Narellan Rd to Bargo section of freeway exclude the shield. The route was duplexed with National Highway 31 once the freeway was opened as far as Narellan Rd. The sections of then proposed freeway which now make up the M5 Motorway were not constructed before freeway routes disappeared.
F6 - Southern Freeway
This was probably the most prominent freeway route of them all. The first signs went up in 1973 between Gwynnieville and Five Islands Rd, later being extended at least as far as Kanahooka Rd as subsequent freeway sections were opened to traffic. The northern segment of route F6 was signed in 1975 and lasted at least until 1995 when the tolls were removed. Scattered remains of the F6 sigange still exist today, however, by the 1980s new sigage was not being erected.
F7 - Cahill Expressway, Eastern Distributor & Eastern Freeway
This route was never signed. The original proposal saw construction of a freeway from the Cahill Expressway at Wolloomoloo, cutting a swathe through Darlinghurst and following Moore Park Rd and Oxford St to Bondi Junction. In 1973 the only section of this route to be constructed was the Cahill Expressway, and at only 3km long it hardly deserved a freeway route marker. The Bondi Junction Bypass portion of the planned freeway was opened in 1981 and signs again omitted the route number. Nowadays a reworked F7 freeway corridor exists as the underground Eastern Distributor.
F8 - Northern Distributor (Wollongong)
Part of the Northern Distributor was the first freeway to be constructed outside of Sydney, opening in 1963. It was given the F8 route marker in 1973, however at that stage the F8 was only 1km long. I have never seen a F8 shield, however according to Paul Rands, who grew up in Wollongong, the route was signed. By the time the F8 was extended north to Towradgi Rd in 1990 the freeway route system was dead and buried.
Photos of Freeway Route signage remnants
F4 shield on The Northern Rd for the Western Freeway at Orchard Hills. 1973. (DMR)
F1 shield on overhead sign at the Warringah Freeway, Naremburn. 1978. (DMR)
Scan of 1987 Gregorys Maxi street directory showing F1 shield on the Warringah Freeway at Naremburn.
Princes Highway southbound approaching the start of the Southern Freeway at Waterfall. Note the different freeway route marker, with a green background and white border/lettering. According to Paul Rands, who grew up in Wollongong, this style of marker was briefly used on the F6 during the mid to late 1980s before signing of the route was abandoned completely. 1994.
End F6 sign on the Southern Freeway at Waterfall. This sign was removed in 2002.
F6 shield on a toll charges sign at the former Waterfall Toll Booths. 1976. (DMR)
F6 signage at the Waterfall Interchange. July 1975. (DMR)
F6 shield on an old Tollway sign, northbound on Bulli Pass. July 2004.
Peeling F6 shield on a freeway green ID sign at the intersection of Masters Rd & Drummond St, Coniston. July 2004.
F6 shield on a freeway green ID sign at the intersection of Princes Hwy & Northclifde Drive, Kembla Grange. July 2004.
Coverplated F6 and NR1 shields on this ID sign at Kanahooka Rd, Dapto. July 2004.
1983 photo shoing F6 and Alt-1 on the Southern Freeway at Figtree. (CMA)