It’s been an extra tough few months for those truckies having to travel through the flood-stricken Kimberley region, but now the construction of a new Fitzroy River Bridge is edging one step closer.
Georgiou Group Pty Ltd, BMD Constructions Pty Ltd and BG&E Pty Ltd have been awarded the contract to construct the new bridge, joining WA Main Roads to form the Fitzroy Bridge Alliance.
The new bridge will provide restore connectivity between the east and west Kimberley.
However, the new bridge isn’t scheduled to be operational until mid-2024.
Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Catherine King MP, spoke of the impacts recent weather events have had on truckies in recent times at her speech at the Trucking Australia Conference, which is taking place on the Sunshine Coast from March 29-31.
“Anyone who has dealt with recent adverse weather events – particularly the recent, widespread flooding – will have no doubt about climate change. The floods across the Kimberley – and the damage they did – was simply extraordinary,” King said, thanking the truckies who have helped to keep those in the Kimberley and its surrounds going.
“I do want to acknowledge the dedication of the road freight industry in meeting this challenge. You kept communities connected and, frankly, you kept some communities alive.
“Last month I visited Fitzroy Crossing to see the damage for myself. I am sure many of you have seen the pictures, but the destruction of the Fitzroy Crossing Bridge is incredible.”
In response to the crisis, the government worked with WA, SA and the NT to allow Class 3 vehicles to access roads they can’t usually operate along.
“But honestly – that was the easy bit. The hard bit was down to the truck drivers who had to drive the thousands of extra kilometres to get the goods and supplies to market. So thank you,” said King.
“Working with the WA Government, we will rebuild the Fitzroy Crossing Bridge to be better and stronger than ever – but in the meantime I thank you for your continued patience and hard work.
“We are working to identify the pinch points and most vulnerable parts of our road network so we can rebuild them now, not wait until disaster strikes.”
Design work for the new bridge, in consultation with key stakeholders including Traditional Owners, is progressing. Site works remain on track to begin in April 2023 subject to weather conditions and the resolution of environmental and heritage issues.
Currently, work on constructing the first of two new low-level crossings is underway. The crossing, which is adjacent to the old Fitzroy River Crossing, will allow four-wheel-drive vehicle access across the river in early April if river conditions remain favourable.
However a second, low-level, two-lane crossing 150 metres upstream of the old bridge, will cater for higher traffic volumes, including freight vehicles and pedestrians. It is hoped this could be operational by May 2023, providing access across the river during this year’s dry season.
As Federal Minister for Emergency Management Murray Watt explained, “These floods had a major impact on quite a remote part of Australia, and we knew from the outset that attracting the resources and personnel to undertake the rebuilding of impacted infrastructure was going to be challenging.
He continued, “But the timely reconstruction of this bridge is critical to the entire region, the freight industry and all those businesses and communities that rely on the road network in the north of the state.”