Heavy traffic out of Sydney for great summer exodus

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A crash involving multiple vehicles on the M1 at Bushells Ridge about 12.30pm forced one northbound lane to close, but the incident was cleared by 1.30pm. Bushells Ridge is a major inlet for Central Coast traffic joining the motorway and a seven-kilometre stretch of moderate-to-heavy traffic remained at 3.30pm.

Earlier at Somersby, two out of three southbound lanes were closed due to a car on fire, but the situation had been cleared by about the same time.

There were also delays of about 25 minutes from Beresfield to Hexham and Heatherbrae, north-west of Newcastle, where traffic had been heavy since the early morning, and from Warnervale to Morisset.

A car on fire on the M1 southbound just after Somersby on Tuesday.

A car on fire on the M1 southbound just after Somersby on Tuesday.Credit:Central Coast Incident Alerts and News Facebook

Southbound Sydney escapees were battling congestion on the Princes Highway around Nowra and between Milton and Ulladulla, and on the Hume Highway. Most of this had cleared by mid-afternoon bar the run into Milton, near Ulladulla, where the Princes Highway squeezes through a small town.

Further afield, traffic was moving slowly on the M1 Pacific Motorway and Gold Coast Highway at Tweed Heads and a truck broke down on the Pacific Motorway past Park Beach Road at Coffs Harbour.

People travelling inland were enjoying better conditions, although traffic was heavy from Menangle Park to Campbelltown. Transport for NSW advised motorists to factor an extra 20 minutes into their travel times.

Northbound traffic was heavy on the M1 at the Hawkesbury River Bridge due to a car crash just north of the bridge,

Northbound traffic was heavy on the M1 at the Hawkesbury River Bridge due to a car crash just north of the bridge,Credit:Twitter @LiveTrafficNSW

Earlier, authorities had expressed cautious optimism about traffic conditions as holidaymakers took to the roads on the annual Sydney exodus.

Historically, traffic starts building from 7am and peaks between 9am and 10am, with December 27 and January 2 the busiest days as travellers often wait until after the festive days to go away on holiday.

But drivers were advised to expect delays of up to 45 minutes at pinch points, as roads are still damaged from this year’s record rain and flooding.

The potential high-traffic areas over the summer holiday period in NSW.

The potential high-traffic areas over the summer holiday period in NSW.

A Transport for NSW spokesman said traffic was also expected to be heavy across the whole holiday period on the Great Western Highway near Blackheath, the Princes Highway near Jervis Bay and Falls Creek, around Coffs Harbour, and on the roads near the Queensland border.

Transport for NSW executive director Roger Weeks said road crews had worked hard to get the state’s major highways back up to a reasonable condition before Christmas, but any further rain could cause them to deteriorate again.

“It only takes a bit of rain for an existing pothole to reopen, or for parts of the network that haven’t quite failed to turn into a pothole,” Weeks said.

Showers are not forecast for Sydney until the weekend.

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