The new Fitzroy River Bridge in Western Australia’s Kimberley region has officially opened to traffic, more than six months ahead of schedule.
The completion of the project marks the official reconnection of East and West Kimberley, after the old Fitzroy River Bridge was irreparably damaged in the Kimberley floods in January.
The Government claims the speed of the bridge rebuild was unprecedented in WA, with demolition of the old bridge only occurring in May.
This rate of progress, it said, was made possible due to a high level of collaboration with key suppliers and contractors to ensure components such as bridge beams, bearings and concrete were made available at the time they were required and installed in an efficient but safe manner.
The new bridge is reportedly six times stronger than the old bridge. It contains twice the number of steel and concrete piles, driven twice as deep into the riverbed.
It is also significantly lower than the old bridge and has a lane in each direction, ensuring the bridge will be more resilient to flood events in the future.
WA Premier Roger Cook said losing the old bridge to floods was a massive blow to communities who rely on the vital artery for freight, transport and connection.
“To see it built back better and stronger, six months ahead of schedule, and in time for the wet season is a truly remarkable achievement,” he said.
“It is even more remarkable when you consider the remoteness of Fitzroy Crossing and the unforgiving conditions crews were faced with.
“Today’s historic reopening is a testament to the people of the Kimberley who came together to achieve this result for their communities.”
The new bridge’s reconstruction was jointly funded by the Australian and Western Australian Governments through the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).
With the bridge now opened, Main Roads WA and the Fitzroy Bridge Alliance are working with other State Government agencies to identify ongoing business and employment opportunities.