Pilbara road re-sealing plan runs into funding snag

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Grey nomads in the Pilbara
Hammersley Gorge is a major tourism drawcard. PIC: DPAW

It seems that virtually everyone wants it done, but no one wants to pay to see the final 100 kilometres-or-so  section of the Pilbara’s Karratha-Tom Price Road fully sealed.

The red dirt sections of the route will be well known to grey nomads who have risked their windscreens and tyres when exploring the area.

According to a report in WA Today, a sealed Karratha-Tom Price Road would unlock tourism opportunities, as well as improving access to remote Aboriginal communities, and becoming a linchpin of new mining activity in the western Pilbara.

In the area are popular tourist spots such as Millstream Chichester National Park and Hammersley Gorge.

Shire of Ashburton Mayor Kerry White told the paper that currently people wanting to travel between Tom Price and Karratha on bitumen, or if the unsealed road is closed, have to take an eight-hour long way round.

A four stage fix has apparently been on the drawing board for more than 20 years, the first two stages were completed 15 years ago and the third section is about to start.

However, $256 million still needs to be raised to finish the fourth stage, a 107 kilometre section from the Rio Tinto rail crossing to Nanutarra-Munjina Road … and it’s not looking good.

Last year, the state government committed $50 million to the project and is looking to the federal government and mining companies to stump up the remainder. However, despite recently appearing on Infrastructure Australia’s priority list, the federal government seems reluctant to make the financial commitment,

Federal funding is thought to hinge on certain mining projects getting off the ground in Pilbara’s west.

A spokesman for federal Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack told WA Today that the Coalition acknowledged the Karratha-Tom Price road was both a key route for industry and a priority for Western Australia, but stopped short of committing any funding.

He said the publication that the Federal Government was “committed to investing in making roads safer right around Australia”.

  • Have you driven the unsealed section of this road? How did you find it? Comment below.
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3 Responses to Pilbara road re-sealing plan runs into funding snag

  1. Beautiful part of the country….whatever the road or track is like..!

  2. In my younger days I worked on the Dampier to Tom Price rail line.

    Successive weak WA governments have failed to negotiate a real deal for motorists in exchange for the billions of dollars of iron ore exploited from the Pilbara region by multi-national companies.

    After fifty plus years of mining there should be a four lane highway right up the WA coast as well as sealed roads right through the Pilbara.

  3. Bitumising the road would be good, but it’s not just the main roads that need work. We find that once you get into the National Parks the roads are dreadful, it doesn’t matter what state or territory it is. We think it’s to deliberately keep tourist numbers down!!

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