Temporary repair work to a badly damaged section of the Great Northern Highway is due to be completed this week, with a staged reopening just days away.
A 40-person strong road construction crew has been working to repair the road between Broome and Derby.
The repair works include the construction of a temporary single-lane gravel track, which will allow for a staged re-opening to occur this week, reconnecting Broome, Derby and Fitzroy Crossing by road for the first time since the floods.
“I want to thank Main Roads and the hard-working road construction teams who have been out there working most days in some really challenging wet season conditions to get this temporary track completed in less than four weeks,” said WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti.
“Seeing the early vision of the floods and the scale of damage that was sustained to the road infrastructure, it’s an incredible achievement to be able to open up the highway in a limited capacity this quickly.”
As part of the staged reopening, vehicles will be escorted in alternating east and west convoys, using the single lane gravel track under speed restrictions.
The reopening will occur in the following stages:
- Stage 1 – access to all vehicles from Thursday February 9 through to Sunday February 12 between the hours of 8am and 4pm only
- Stage 2 – escorted access to all vehicles from Monday February 13 one-way, twice daily:
- Derby side (east) convoys leaving at 7.30am and 4.30pm
- Broome side (west) convoys leaving at 8am and 5pm
“This staged re-opening will allow movement of critical freight and local community members between Broome, Derby and Fitzroy Crossing for the first time since the floods,” added Kimberley MLA Divina D’Anna.
“Pending weather conditions, we expect that within the next few weeks the second lane of the temporary gravel track will have finished construction, allowing traffic to move more freely.”
Permanent repair works will be undertaken in the dry season.
Travel times across the 10-kilometre section are likely to average between 15-20 minutes per convoy. Wait times at the controlled access points either side of the temporary track at the Willare Roadhouse and the Cockatoo Creek Bridge are likely to average 30 minutes.
All vehicles will need to follow the direction of traffic controllers and drive to the reduced speed limit.
Crews will be monitoring the weather and road conditions and if necessary short-term closures may be implemented if the unsealed conditions deteriorate due to further significant rainfall.
Works are continuing in Fitzroy Crossing to implement a temporary barge system. Recent rainfall and rising river levels have hampered construction of the barge, however works have started on new landing foundations on the eastern side of the river in preparation for an initial punt service commencing once river heights reduce to a safe level.
Planning continues for the temporary low-level crossing which will provide a more permanent option while the new Fitzroy Crossing Bridge is constructed.
Procurement for the full replacement of the Fitzroy Crossing Bridge is being fast-tracked, and the WA Government plans to award a contract in the coming weeks.