A contract has now been awarded to seal 150 kilometres of the Tanami Road, with works on the first 60 kilometre section due to begin next month.
The rough Outback road that links Alice Springs to Western Australia has long been seen as the ultimate adventure for well-equipped grey nomads … but as the bane of the lives of many truck drivers who use the route.
The Big Rigs publication reports that Northern Territory business, Exact Contracting, has been awarded $73 million tender for construction of the first stage of the works, as well as the planning for the second stage.
Works on the first 60 kilometres are anticipated to start next month and be completed by September 2023. Construction on the second stage is due to commence in October 2023.
“Sealing the next 150 kilometres of the Tanami will be greatly welcomed by all who have to regularly travel that route, particularly freight haulers, pastoralists and locals, said Northern Territory Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics Minister, Eva Lawler. “The unsealed road is difficult to maintain and is often in a poor state,”
Bigs Rigs reports that the Tanami Road forms part of the Alice Springs to Halls Creek Roads of Strategic Importance corridor, connecting Alice Springs with North-West Western Australia and sees considerable traffic volumes including heavy vehicles.
“Sealing Territory roads makes for easy journeys meaning less wear and tear on vehicles, reduced freight costs, improved reliability and makes sure business keeps moving in a safe and productive way,” said Minister Lawler.
Last month, the WA Government further underlined its own commitment to sealing the Tanami Road between Halls Creek and the NT Border.
In the state budget, it allocated just over half the $500-million price tag in the forward estimates, a contribution shared between WA and the Commonwealth.
The budget notes said the remainder would be allocated beyond the forward estimates, while the project was expected to take the best part of a decade to complete due to the challenges posed by the harsh environment and remote location.
Every wet season the Tanami Road suffers significant damage and communities can be cut off for months at a time.
Curtin University supply chain expert Elizabeth Jackson told the ABC that sealing the road also had benefits to the wider region, by providing another avenue for delivering goods to the Kimberley.
“The opportunity to develop and broaden our transport links in and out of this state to ensure a free, steady flow of products is absolutely wonderful news,” she said. “We’ve experienced the dreadful outcomes of Covid and natural disasters to our overland links … these are examples of why we need this Tanami Road so desperately.”