The Great Northern Highway will soon be more resilient to road closures, with the Coalition Government signing off on up to $30.79 million for a new bridge over Bow River in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, and BMD Constructions awarded the contract for the works.
Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the Australian Government’s $600 million Northern Australia Roads Programme was keeping people and freight moving safely and efficiently across Northern Australia.
“The Great Northern Highway is the only sealed road between the Port of Broome and Darwin, making it a critical freight and tourist route for the region,” Mr Chester said.
“The Bow River Bridge and Approaches project will replace the existing low-level single bridge with a new 260 metre long two-lane bridge on a new alignment. Building a new bridge and fixing the approaches means the road will be able to stay open during a 1-in-50 year flood, giving freight carriers, locals and tourists the confidence to use the highway all year round.
“Another important part of the project is Indigenous job creation—with a large proportion of employment and suppliers for the project targeted to maximise Indigenous participation from within the region.”
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said the existing bridge regularly flooded during the wet season, cutting the road and creating delays for freight operators.
“The existing bridge has deteriorated because of regular flooding, making it unreliable and dangerous for all drivers. Our investment is going to make a huge difference and ensure businesses can reliably get their product from point A to point B so they can turn a dollar,” Mr Joyce said.
“Works will include sealing 2.5 kilometres either end of the bridge to create a wider two-lane approach, building high level road embankments and guide banks at bridge abutments, getting rid of the old bridge and building a new vehicle rest area.”
Western Australian Minister for Transport, Planning and Lands Rita Saffioti said the Western Australian Government had committed up to $7.7 million towards the Bow River Bridge project, which would create new jobs and support economic development.
“This new bridge is going to improve connectivity and productivity in Western Australia through improved flood resilience, accessibility and safety on the Great Northern Highway. Construction is expected to start in early-2018 and be completed by late-2018, weather permitting,” Ms Saffioti said.
Federal Member for Durack Melissa Price said the region’s industries would benefit greatly from the new bridge.
“The existing bridge is vulnerable to flooding, which cuts the only sealed access between the Port of Broome and the Port of Wyndham. Our exporters depend on reliable transport links within a competitive global market, and this project is going to improve efficiency, safety and reliability between the Ports of Broome and Wyndham,” Ms Price said.
Western Australian Minister for Regional Development Alannah MacTiernan said the project would have a positive impact on the local economy.
“The upgrade is expected to support an average of 40 jobs over its life, many of which will go to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and use businesses within the region,” Ms MacTiernan said.
The Australian Government has committed up to $30.79 million to the project, with the Western Australian Government committing $7.7 million. Construction is expected to start in early 2018.
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