Upgrades to boost access, provide jobs

Glenn CordingleyBroome Advertiser

The road linking WA’s biggest Aboriginal community to the outside world and its remote Kimberley airstrip are set for big upgrades to guarantee access during wet weather and flooding.

The announcement was part of an election commitment by the McGowan Government to seal the final 5.45km of the 13km-long road connecting the Great Northern Highway to Bidyadanga, about 190km south of Broome.

The upgrades were estimated to cost about $3 million — marking a saving of $1 million. The remaining savings would be redirected to improve the local airstrip, ensuring all-weather access to the community.

Medical services use the airstrip to provide care to the community.

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While performing adequately in dry conditions, the airstrip often closes in wet weather due to water pooling in the aircraft landing areas, resulting in the cancellation of important services. The upgrades will ensure reliable year-round access to important medical services.

A partnership between Main Roads and the Kullari Regional Communities Incorporated (KRCI) aims to provide employment and training opportunities for local Aboriginals from Bidyadanga during delivery of the works.

Sealing of the access road and airstrip was due to start in late September with completion by the end of the year.

Mr McGowan said he was pleased the project would provide jobs and training for local people while giving them the opportunity to learn new skills and work on future road projects.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said securing reliable access and providing an opportunity for the local community to take part was “a great outcome”.

“Not only will it help ensure access throughout the year, it will allow Main Roads to further collaborate with Aboriginal business, providing training and job opportunities for the local community,” she said.

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the project would create economic opportunities for the Bidyadanga people.

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