The WA government says that the Kimberley community, as well as operators, have put in much hard work to ensure the early opening of the new Fitzroy River Bridge
The Western Australian government has announced that the new Fitzroy River Bridge in Kimberley has officially opened to traffic more than six months ahead of schedule.
The completion of the project marks the official reconnection of east and west Kimberley after the original bridge was irreparably damaged in the city’s historic floods in January.
“Losing the Fitzroy River Bridge in January’s devastating flood was a massive blow to communities in the Kimberley who rely on this vital artery for freight, transport and connection,” WA premier Roger Cook says.
“To see it built back better and stronger, six months ahead of schedule, and in time for the wet season is a truly remarkable achievement.”
The bridge reconstruction was jointly funded by the federal and WA governments through the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).
The WA government says the speed of the bridge rebuild is unprecedented in the state, with demolition of the old bridge only occurring in May.
It was made possible due to a high level of collaboration with key suppliers and contractors to ensure components such as bridge beams, bearings and concrete were made available at the required time and installed in an efficient but safe manner.
The WA government also undertook a fast-tracked procurement process, which saw contracts awarded in around eight weeks, a process which normally takes up to nine months.
“I was on the ground when the old bridge was demolished seven months ago, and to see a bigger and better bridge constructed in its place and now open to traffic is an achievement everyone involved can be proud of,” WA transport minister Rita Saffioti says.
“Right from the start we recognised how important it was to deliver this new bridge as quickly as possible and throughout we have sought to expedite delivery and construction as much as possible.
“Whether it be squeezing a typical nine-month procurement process into eight weeks, suppliers prioritising materials or employing local people and businesses on the project, everyone has jumped on board to get this bridge built as quickly as possible.”
The WA government says the new bridge is six times stronger than the original, with twice the number of steel and concrete driven twice as deep into the riverbed.
It is also significantly longer than the original and has a lane in each direction, which the WA government says will ensure the bridge is more resilient to flood events in the future.
“Completion of the construction of the new Fitzroy River Bridge is not only a significant milestone in the Kimberley floods recovery process but one that will provide greater certainty to communities in the region ahead of this year’s wet season,” WA emergency services minister Stephen Dawson says.
“The collective achievement of the project team in partnership with the local community, businesses and workforce to deliver this critical piece of road infrastructure well ahead of schedule is to be commended.”
The project was delivered by the Fitzroy Bridge Alliance which comprised Main Roads WA, construction companies Georgiou Group and BMD Constructions as well as designer BG&E.
Throughout construction, the WA government and the alliance maintained road connection through the delivery of a number of low-level crossings, ensuring critical freight could be transported as well as providing support for the tourism industry.
Significant outcomes were also delivered for the local community, with more than 240 locals being employed on the project.
A quarter of total construction hours have been attributed to Aboriginal people and 26 Aboriginal-owned businesses were awarded contracts associated with the project.
With the bridge now opened, Main Roads WA and the Fitzroy Bridge Alliance will now work with other state government agencies to identify ongoing business and employment opportunities for locals who have developed skills and business capacity because of the build.
The WA government says the new bridge is a vital piece of infrastructure for North-West Australia, with its construction now providing certainty to businesses and communities that rely on the road network to travel and receive goods.
“This bridge is not just an essential piece of infrastructure, but a vital link between families, businesses and communities in the Kimberley to the rest of Western Australia and the rest of the country,” federal transport and infrastructure minister Catherine King says.