Two major Pilbara towns witnessed a milestone achievement last week after construction of an infrastructure project decades in the making finally got under way.
The official sod turning for stage three of the Karratha to Tom Price Road was conducted on Thursday, with Premier Mark McGowan and Minister for Transport Rita Saffioti completing the bumpy journey between the two towns on the currently unsealed road.
The $81.5 million project, which includes almost 50km of road beginning at the end of the already sealed Karratha section, has been funded by the State and Commonwealth Governments and is expected to be completed by mid-2020.
Mr McGowan said stage three would create more than 100 jobs, ensure the tourism potential of the Pilbara was maximised and would benefit locals.
“By building this road we will ensure there is far easier transport across the Pilbara, people will save hours and hours driving and there will be easier access to the hospital and facilities here in Karratha,” he said.
“For tourists, it’ll mean people can drive across the Pilbara through some of the most spectacular landscapes and have access to Millstream, Karijini and other great tourism attractions.”
The work being completed includes sealing 48km of road, plus constructing new pavement and drainage structures.
When complete the upgrades will reduce travel times, improve safety and reduce road closures, particularly during the wet season.
The project has not been straight-forward, with the discovery of asbestos along the planned route causing delays of more than a year.
Ms Saffioti said in total they had to remove 12,000 qm of asbestos which cost $4.5 million.
“It was a mammoth task and talking to the Main Road’s crew, it has been one of the most challenging projects they’ve ever undertaken because of the complexities of handling such a dangerous material,” she said.
Planning for stage four of the project is also under way with the final design of the route expected to be finalised in the coming months, after which it will be subject to 12 to 18 months of environmental approvals.
Work on the project is being undertaken by MACA Civil Pty Ltd and will include sealing 48km of road, plus constructing new pavement and drainage structures.
Once complete, the upgrades are expected to reduce travel times, improve safety and reduce road closures, particularly during the wet season.