The State Government has announced part of the flood-ravaged Great Northern Highway will reopen this week, allowing critical freight and local traffic to move between isolated Kimberley towns. Temporary road repair works will soon be completed on a 10km stretch of highway between Broome and Derby, where vehicles will be able to drive across on the single-lane gravel track near Willare. Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said travel would be facilitated in convoys escorted by Main Roads vehicles until crews can widen the road into two lanes. “The floods have had a devastating impact and restricted connectivity in the Kimberley region,” she said. “Seeing the early vision of the floods and the scale of damage that was sustained to the road infrastructure, it’s an incredible achievement to be able to open up the highway in a limited capacity this quickly. “I want to thank Main Roads and the hard-working road construction teams who have been out there working most days in some really challenging wet season conditions to get this temporary track completed in less than four weeks.” The reopening will happen in two stages, the first extending from February 9 to 12 strictly between 8am and 4pm. Stage two beginning on February 13 will allow access to all vehicles, but will only have two one-way escorted trips per day from each town, Derby convoy leaving at 7:30am and 4pm and the Broome convoy leaving at 8am and 5pm. The second stage is expected to remain in place for up to two weeks while construction crews widen the road. Wait times of 30 minutes are expected at both access points on both sides of the temporary road at Cockatoo Creek Bridge and Willare Roadhouse, with travel times across taking about 15 to 20 minutes. The temporary road may be closed if significant rainfall or weather events affect the road’s condition. Kimberley MLA Divina D’Anna said the reopening would allow critical freight and local community members to move between Broome, Derby and Fitzroy Crossing for the first time since the floods. “Pending weather conditions, we expect that within the next few weeks, the second lane of the temporary gravel track will have finished construction, allowing traffic to move more freely,” she said. The highway remains split in half at the decimated Fitzroy Crossing Bridge. The planning stage to temporarily replace the Fitzroy Crossing Bridge is continuing, while the State Government is expected to award the contract for its full replacement in the coming weeks.