News, Road upgrades, Western Australia

$542.8 million Tanami sealing project gets underway in WA

Sealing has now begun on the Western Australian section of Tanami Road, which links the Great Northern Highway near Halls Creek with the Northern Territory border.

Work on the first 41-kilometre section through the hills south of the Great Northern Highway is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.

Often labelled by truckies as one of the most challenging roads to drive, Tanami Road is 1016 kilometres long and mostly unsealed, extending through the Northern Territory to Alice Springs.

It’s rough and corrugated during the dry season; and experiences long road closures during the wet season, cutting off access to communities it services.

Sealing the road will deliver improved and safer access to remote Aboriginal communities and mine sites, as well as a more resilient road freight network by providing an alternative route into northern Western Australia from the eastern states.

“The Tanami is an important and significant connector road for people across the Kimberley, and to see sealing works begin on the Western Australian section is a major milestone,” said WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti.

“We saw first-hand during the Kimberley floods the impact when road access is cut, so investing in new sealed road connections, like the Tanami, will be critical for our future resilience to severe weather.”

The Australian and Western Australian governments have committed $542.8 million to complete sealing of the 313-kilometre WA section of the road over the next 10 years, after design and development work started in 2020.

Federal Senator for Western Australia Glenn Sterle added, “Sealing this road will make Aboriginal communities it services less remote by providing safer and more flood resilient access.

“This work will provide a reliable alternative freight route into northern Western Australia from the eastern states. This improves an essential link in Australia’s outback and remote road highway network, benefiting locals and travellers for years to come.”

The project will be directly managed by Main Roads Western Australia on behalf of the Shire of Halls Creek, using local Kimberley businesses with a focus on long-term Aboriginal engagement and employment.

Four new local Aboriginal start-up businesses are currently engaged on the project, with two more to begin soon.

More than 65 per cent of the current workforce are Aboriginal, and two-thirds of those workers are local from the Shire of Halls Creek, with further initiatives planned to provide more opportunities for local residents to work on the project.

In the Northern Territory, 300 kilometres of the 703-kilometre section of road has already been sealed, with an additional 30 kilometres from Alice Springs due for completion mid-this year, and a further 90 kilometres due for completion during 2025.

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