The Government of New South Wales (NSW) in Australia has opened the A$4.3bn ($3bn) M5 tunnels between Beverly Hills and St Peters, the second major WestConnex project.

The 9km-long twin tunnels, part of the M8 motorway, were opened for traffic following final safety checks.

The project was delivered by more than 18,000 workers.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said: “Motorists will be able to travel from Beverly Hills to St Peter’s in around ten minutes, while the project will ease congestion on the M5 East, saving up to half an hour on journeys between Liverpool and Sydney’s south during the peak.

“We have already seen the huge difference that the New M4 project has made for Western Sydney, and we expect similar time savings on the New M5 tunnels.

“In the first few weeks, we expect drivers to take their time to get used to the changes, before seeing the full benefit of the project.”

WestConnex is one of the largest road infrastructure projects in Australia. The overall project involves delivering a 33km traffic-light free motorway network to improve road transportation in Sydney.

Australian Federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge said: “WestConnex is being delivered in four major stages, including the New M4, the New M5 tunnels and the M4-M5 Link and Rozelle Interchange, opening in 2023.

“When complete, WestConnex will provide drivers with a 33km, traffic-light free network.”

This March, the NSW Government initiated a process to explore the divestment of its remaining stake in the WestConnex motorway project to fund other infrastructure works.

The government-appointed team of advisers will assess the feasibility of the planned divestment. The report is set to be submitted to the state in the second half of this year.