Navigating the Tunnel


Perth’s Graham Farmer Freeway provides a vital east-west link from the busy eastern precincts of Burswood and Rivervale through to the bustling centres of West Perth and Leederville.

The 1.6 km Northbridge Tunnel is a key element of this freeway, offering drivers a valuable, time-saving option to driving though the Perth CBD.

First opened to traffic in April 2000, the tunnel was upgraded in early 2013 to provide three traffic lanes in each direction to meet the future needs of our growing city, and a new on-ramp to Mitchell Freeway northbound from the Loftus Street exit.   Entry and exit arrangements and destination signage were also modified to reduce the need for lane changes and make the Graham Farmer Freeway and Northbridge Tunnel as easy as possible to navigate. 

For important safety information about the upgraded Northbridge Tunnel, a simple tunnel map and answers to the most frequently asked questions, download the Navigating the Northbridge Tunnel Brochure.


Tunnel driving tips

When you drive through the Northbridge Tunnel we recommend you:

  • Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you
  • Avoid unnecessary lane changing – the tunnel entrances are clearly signposted to help drivers select the correct lane for their chosen destination
  • Turn on your headlights
  • Observe the Variable Message Signs (VMS) and individual lane signage
  • Keep your radio on so the tunnel operators can communicate with you
  • Stay alert


Restrictions in the Tunnel

Transport of dangerous or explosive goods required to be carried by licensed operators (also known as 'placarded loads') are banned in the Tunnel. For more information about Tunnel safety please download the Navigating the Northbridge Tunnel brochure.

An app is available for drivers to access information on transporting dangerous goods in WA, developed by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.


Animated fly throughs

We have produced a series of animated fly throughs to clearly show the new lane and exiting arrangements.

The visualisations below are hosted in our YouTube channel and demonstrate traffic travelling eastbound in a three lane configuration.


Lane Use Management Signals (LUMS)

Lane Use Management Signals are individual LED signs that are used to close lanes in the event of an accident or breakdown.

Effectively the signals can change any running lane into an emergency or breakdown lane.

Image: lane graphic small.RCN-D13^23155492.JPG 

Image: Illustration of what the signs in the tunnel mean


Emergency procedures

Stay in your vehicle unless it is clearly unsafe to do so.

If you think your vehicle is failing before entering the tunnel you should pull into the emergency bay that is clearly signposted before the tunnel entrance.

If you are involved in a crash or breakdown in the tunnel you should remain in your vehicle and wait for instructions via the radio broadcast facility, PA system and in-tunnel Variable Message Signs (VMS).

Changes to the tunnel’s traffic management system, such as the individual lane use signals switching from green arrows to flashing amber, will also indicate that you have been detected by the 24-hour control-room and that help is on the way. Depending on the time of day, your vehicle will be quickly assisted by the dedicated Incident Response Service (IRS) or a Main Roads-contracted tow truck.

The IRS is part of the State Government’s Active Traffic Management initiative to improve congestion management on Perth’s CBD roads and freeways. 

The IRS vehicle has a soft foam ‘push pad’, which shapes itself to the design of the affected car before moving it to a safe location away from traffic.   Every week since its inception the IRS vehicle has safely relocated several vehicles from the Tunnel and assisted to safety at least a dozen more.


Tunnel facts

Between April 2000 and April 2013, over 380 million vehicles have safely passed thru the 1.6 km tunnel. In distance terms, this would equate to a single vehicle travelling around the world approximately 9,482 times.

When constructed in 2000, the Northbridge Tunnel included 350 km of cabling, 15 km of fire piping, 3,000 lights, over 300 traffic signs and signals, 160 emergency phones, 54 CCTV cameras and 360 PA speakers. Over 200 new items of equipment were installed during the 2013 upgrades.

Prior to the 2013 upgrade, the Northbridge Tunnel was already carrying close to 100,000 vehicles every weekday, making it one of the busiest road tunnels in Australia.


Modified: 27 Apr 2018