Sealing has begun of the Western Australian section of Tanami Road, which links the Great Northern Highway 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.
Tanami Road is 1,016 kilometres long and mostly unsealed, extending through the NT to Alice Springs.
The road is notoriously difficult to drive, becoming rough and corrugated during the dry season with long road closures during the wet season, cutting off access to the 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 WA 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 WA Governments have committed $542.8 million to complete sealing of the 313-kilometre section of the road over the next 10 years, after design and development work started in 2020.
In the NT, 300 kilometres of the 703-kilometre section of road has already been sealed.
An additional 30 kilometres from Alice Springs is due for completion this year, with a further 90 kilometres due for completion during 2025.