Work on shifting the Great Northern Highway to the north of its existing alignment and around the Wedgefield industrial precinct is now underway, the second stage in the Port Hedland Improvement Program which is on track to be completed in mid-2014.
Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said this major investment by the national government in Port Hedland is recognition of the Pilbara region’s importance to Australia’s present and future prosperity.
“In fact this project is also one of a number of Federally-funded projects currently underway in the State. Indeed, since coming to office in late 2007 we’ve nearly doubled annual Federal infrastructure spending from $154 to $261 per West Australian,” said Mr Albanese.
“When it comes to infrastructure, Federal Labor means and does what it says.”
Representing Mr Albanese at today’s ceremony marking the official start of work on the second and final stage of the Improvement Program, WA Senator Glenn Sterle said the project will build a new eight kilometre section of highway around the Wedgefield industrial precinct.
“A new interchange at the intersection between the ‘old’ Great Northern Highway and Port Hedland Road will also be built,” said Senator Sterle.
“This upgrade can’t come soon enough. Already 15,000 cars, trucks and road trains use the existing stretch of highway through the town each day, a figure that’s up 25 per cent in just the last three years.
“Shifting the Highway will ease congestion, improve safety and make sure the local road network can cope with future growth, particularly the almost 400 additional road trains associated with the Utah Point Berth development and new mines at Abydos, Mt Dove and Phil’s Creek.
“This project is another great example of Federal Labor reinvesting a major proportion of the wealth created by our natural resources back into building the infrastructure which will support the industry’s continued growth as well as the local communities that work for it.”
The Port Hedland Improvement Program is being funded by both the Federal ($197.2 million) and Western Australian ($77.2 million) governments. Stage One – worth $6.7 million – involved widening the Highway to four lanes between Wallwork Road and the Broome turnoff (see attached map).