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Kimberley all set for $330M in road upgrades

​​​Great Northern Highway Upgrade
Smoking Cermony at the Great Northern Highway Upgrade project site.
Smoking Cermony at the Great Northern Highway Ord River North project site.

More than $330 million worth of road upgrades are currently underway or planned for the Kimberley region of Western Australia, including more than $180 million of upgrades to Great Northern Highway.

Western Australia Transport Minister Rita Saffioti visited the site of the Great Northern Highway Upgrade project at Ord River yesterday to check on the progress. She said the road projects across the Kimberley region were supporting local jobs and the local economy.

“With more people visiting our northern regions during the school holidays, these upgrades are providing a safe road network to ensure that freight can be transported safely, whilst Western Australians can see the beauty of the Kimberley,” the Minister said.

The $98.14 million Ord River North project is jointly funded by the Australian and state governments and will see priority sections of the highway and bridges upgraded improving safety and efficiency.

Previous network assessments carried out in the Kimberley region identified this section of Great Northern Highway as substandard, given its narrow road width along with excessive edge wear. The road condition meant opposing traffic needed to pass with minimal separation and forced vehicles onto the unsealed road shoulder when passing.

Construction on the section kicked off in early May and is being delivered by WBHO Infrastructure, which is also undertaking the design and construction of the upgrade to the 27-kilometre northern part of the highway, between Maggie Creek and Wyndham.

An eight-kilometre section of Great Northern Highway between Ord River and Tickalara Creek has already been upgraded, with work recently starting on the next 11 kilometre section.

Planning is underway for additional works, including an additional six kilometres of highway and upgrades to Tickalara Bridge and Frog Hollow Bridge.

Working closely with local communities, the project is providing job opportunities for local Aboriginal people and Aboriginal businesses as sub-contractors.

In the first month of construction, May 2021, nearly 16 per cent of the project’s workforce comprised Aboriginal people, with just over six per cent being local Aboriginal people.

A target of 30 per cent Aboriginal employment has been set for the project, with mentoring provided by local Aboriginal business Dadaru to create a support system and team culture.

Other major projects currently planned or under construction in the Kimberley include:

  • Upgrades to the single lane Arthur Creek Bridge;
  • Planning underway to upgrade four floodways to bridges south of Ord River;
  • Planning for upgrades to all single lane bridges at Willare Crossing and Fitzroy Crossing on the Great Northern Highway in the West Kimberley as well as upgrades to substandard sections of highway between Broome and Fitzroy Crossing;
  • Planning for upgrades to Great Northern Highway through the East Kimberley is continuing and will include the removal of all single lane bridges between Ord River and Bow River;
  • $25.8 million committed by the State and Federal Governments to upgrade sections of Great Northern Highway between Broome and Derby including the upgrade of 15 kilometres near Deep Creek east of Broome, 18 kilometres near Logue River and a further two kilometres near Derby at Wonjil;
  • More than $21 million committed to the Kimberley as part of the Regional Road Safety Program in 2021-22. This has enabled low cost upgrades to be undertaken on 740 kms of various sections of Great Northern Highway and Victoria Highway;
  • $15 million jointly funded Broome Cape Leveque Road project;
  • $42.75 million jointly funded Tanami Road upgrade;
  • $51.3 million jointly funded Duncan Road and Gordon Downs Road upgrade;
  • $18.3 million Moonamang Road upgrade.

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