State Government finalises strategy to reconnect Great Northern Highway through Fitzroy Crossing

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti has today outlined the State Government's plan to reconnect the Great Northern Highway at Fitzroy Crossing.
  • Strategy will be implemented over coming weeks and will include a combination of barges and a low-level floodway crossing
  • Assessments indicate Fitzroy Crossing Bridge will need to be fully replaced
  • State Government will work closely with Traditional Owner groups on key cultural heritage issues and to ensure local job and training opportunities

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti has today outlined the State Government's plan to reconnect the Great Northern Highway at Fitzroy Crossing.

Sections of the highway around Fitzroy Crossing were completely washed away in the recent one-in-100-year flood event, while the Fitzroy Crossing Bridge sustained significant damage and will need to be fully replaced.

The plan will involve the implementation of a barge system across the river, which will initially be operated by tugs, with a cable system to be operationalised shortly after.

The barge system can be adapted when the river levels fall too low, using portable pontoons, which would act as a temporary crossing.

The barge system will be used while Main Roads constructs a low-level floodway crossing, which will provide a more permanent option while the full replacement of the Fitzroy Crossing Bridge is undertaken.

Main Roads is considering appropriate locations for the low-level floodway crossing, with construction expected to take around four months to complete.

Barge infrastructure could be reinstated if the river levels exceed the height of the low-level floodway crossing at any point.

Main Roads will work with industry to ensure transport operators are briefed on the operation of the barge system and is currently assessing options for breakdown areas for trucks on approach to Fitzroy Crossing.

Planning for a new bridge across the Fitzroy River is well underway. The new bridge will need to be higher and longer, and will be dual-lane, rather than the current single-lane bridge.

Main Roads will today be commencing a fast-tracked procurement process to select a preferred contractor as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, heavy machinery and a 40-person strong road reconstruction crew continue to carry out repair works on the severely damaged section of the Great Northern Highway through Willare.

The crews are working from both ends of a damaged 10-kilometre section of the highway and will be putting in place temporary gravel roads to allow for the reconnection between Broome, Derby and Fitzroy Crossing.

It's anticipated the works on the Willare section will take around four weeks to complete, with planning underway for a full road rebuild to begin in the dry season.

Comments attributed to Transport Minister Rita Saffioti:

"This historic event has caused significant disruption on our road network, but I want to commend Main Roads and its partner agencies for working as quickly as possible as they look to put in place temporary solutions that allow for the reconnection of the road.

"I also want to thank the community for their patience - we will work as fast as we can to implement these solutions but being in the middle of the wet season, there remains the possibility of significant rainfall events in the coming weeks and months which could disrupt works.

"As we look to implement these solutions, we will work with the community and industry, particularly transport operators, to make sure there is a good understanding of how the temporary barge option will operate.

"This will be the first time a barge system like this has been operated in this part of our State, so the final configuration and operation will depend largely on the conditions on the ground.

"Assessments of the existing bridge have been completed, and Main Roads has determined that given the significant damage, a full rebuild is the only feasible option.

"Importantly, we will be looking to work closely with Traditional Owner groups on key cultural heritage issues, and to ensure that out of this emergency, we are creating employment and training opportunities for the local Indigenous communities."

Comments attributed to Kimberley MLA Divina D'Anna:

"It is now clear there is a need for a new bridge. This will be a long-term project and I recognise the need for interim solutions in the meantime, that apply learnings from this flood event.

"The combination of barges and the construction of a low level-crossing means we can adapt to the variable conditions we experience in the Kimberley across the year, including changes to the river level.

"While this has been a devastating event for the Kimberley, there are opportunities for our community to benefit from the training and employment that will come with the rebuild effort, and I'll be advocating strongly to relevant Ministers within our government to make sure that happens."

Minister's office - 6552 5500