Great Eastern Highway near being impassable says shire

By: Rob McKay


Surface worn out and road needs replacing on major national east-west link

Great Eastern Highway near being impassable says shire
One of the pictures Jamie Criddle sent showing the state of the road

 

The Great Eastern Highway has been allowed to wear out and carts of it are in imminent danger of becoming impassable, the Western Australian Shire of Westonia has warned state and federal governments.

A letter from Westonia CEO Jamie Criddle to WA transport minister Rita Saffioti and copied to federal infrastructure minister Darren Chester details is words and pictures the sorry state of main national road link between east and west.

While that document notes five years of pleas for action, Criddle tells ATN concern actually stretches back about 20 years.

In that time, little has been done apart from some resurfacing and state media reports that where action has recently been taken, the surface has bled tar in a way older sections reportedly never did.

Criddle says he is to meet WA Department of Main Roads officials tomorrow who are driving the highway to gauge the extent of the problem.

He has particular concerns about a 40km section between Walgoolan and Southern Cross but is more exercised at the lack of actual action on the road surface as compared with amounts spent on planning and posts but also about the historic neglect.

"The State Government has simply ‘dropped the ball’ in relation to the condition of the entire Great Eastern Highway, focusing more on city centric and coastal projects while ignoring the Wheatbelt’s constant request to expenditure," Criddle tells the ministers

"We were aware that the Highway would start to break up, which prompted out calls for action years ago.

"In have been informed that design work for the Carabin section was only completed in September of this year and the rest of the Walgoolan to Southern Cross design was still happening."

Criddle tells ATN his family and shire residents avoid using the road as multi-combination trailers are at the mercy of surface and edge malformations in the road.

Though her office is yet to respond to ATN’s queries, Saffioti has been quoted in the West Australian newspaper as saying she would approach the federal government for $200 million for the section in question in the May federal Budget and that maintenance work would be undertaken over the summer.

Meanwhile, the state government says it has followed up on an election promise to Kalgoorlie to spend $14 million to make Great Eastern Highway between Anzac Drive and Gatacre Drive a dual carriageway.

"One of my government's top priorities is fixing regional roads. In the 2017-18 state Budget, we included a 20 per cent increase to funding for regional roads," premier Mark McGowan says.

Construction is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2018-19 with the upgrades to be completed by June 2019.

Works will include improved drainage to carry water to an open channel and away from the highway via pipes beneath the road surface.

The upgrade will improve both safety and accessibility for about 8,000 vehicles that use this section of Great Eastern Highway every day, 15 per cent of these are heavy vehicles

"I'm proud to have been able to secure funding for this important road upgrade, which will improve access and safety for heavy vehicles servicing commercial properties fronting the highway," Saffioti says.

"The heavy transport industry considers the dual carriageway vital to the safe movement of traffic on this section and we have listened to their concerns.

"This project is integral for road users, business operators, residents and visitors to this hub of mining activity within the state."

 

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