Works have begun on a flood-prone section of the Oodnadatta Track in South Australia’s far northwest.
Drivers have previously been left stranded along the track, which is an important freight link for local communities, on numerous occasions due to storms and flooding.
Five new major floodways are now being built along an 80-kilometre section of unsealed road between the remote towns of Marla and Oodnadatta, to help improve access after rain.
Each floodway will be reinforced with cement and sealed to make it easier for vehicles to drive on it when the track is wet.
Formation works will also take place to raise the surface level of the track in targeted areas, creating table drains.
These allow water to run off the road, enabling the Oodnadatta Track to remain open or be reopened more quickly after rainfall.
Concrete walls and mesh Gabion baskets filled with stones will also be built on both sides of the floodways, to prevent floodwaters from eroding the track.
New signage will be installed to give drivers more warning and longer preparation time.
The entire track will remain open during construction, with speed and lane restrictions in place throughout the affected 80-kilometre section.
Construction of the upgraded floodways and formation works is expected to be completed by mid-2024.
The $10.6 million project is funded by the Australian and South Australian governments, with the Australian Government committing more than $8.7 million under the Roads to Recovery Program.
South Australian Minister for Regional Roads, Geoff Brock, said: “The Oodnadatta Track is a daily route for many locals and pastoralists as well as travellers and it’s vital we continue to maintain and upgrade this key outback road to ensure accessibility.
“Too many times we’ve seen road users become stranded along the track following intense rain and these works will help vehicles and caravans avoid becoming bogged in a remote location.
“The upgrades will also save freight trucks from having to take a much longer route to their destination if the track is cut off.
“Improved floodways and better road conditions will give drivers the confidence to travel on the Oodnadatta Track when severe weather hits, but it’s important to still plan ahead and make sure your vehicle is equipped with emergency supplies.”