One of Queensland’s most remote roads – the Donohue Highway stretching 250 km west of Boulia to the Northern Territory border – is to receive a $3 million upgrade as part of a plan to bring the worst parts of the transcontinental ‘Outback Highway’ to all-weather standard.
The plan, which has the backing of the Australian, Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australian governments, will improve travel across 2800 km of remote country between Winton in Queensland and Laverton in Western Australia.
Leader of The Nationals in the Senate, Ron Boswell, welcomed the funding commitment to upgrade the road which is the most direct route between Brisbane and Alice Springs.
“An improved road has the potential to reduce transport costs for the pastoral sector and improve access to remote communities,” he said. “Adventure tourism, built around an all-weather road, would be another big winner.”
“This is tremendous news for the people of remote Australia and is further evidence that AusLink, the National Transport Plan, is delivering worthwhile roadworks for all Australians, irrespective of where they live.”
Senator Boswell said the road has the potential to provide a broad range of regional benefits to the areas it connects, and beyond.
“This road is important to Australia’s central regions from an economic, cultural and social perspective and I am pleased the Australian Government has stepped in to improve the worst sections of the road.”
The Australian Government funding will be used to target sections over 102.5 km of the route, involving:
· raising the road so that it does not become boggy in the Wet, realigning a section and improve visibility for drivers over sandhill country, 62.6 km to 84.9 km west of Boulia ($850,000);
· realigning and sealing sections of the highway over stony and rocky outcrops at Glenormiston, 117 km to 122.3 km from Boulia ($980,000);
· raising the road above that of the surrounding countryside, widen it and replace the gravel surface between 206.5 km and 233.7 km west of Boulia ($1.17 million).
Senator Boswell said the Australian Government spending complemented Queensland Government investment in the Kennedy Developmental Road, on part of the Diamantina Developmental Road and the Donohue Highway between Winton and Tobermorey Station, on the Northern Territory border.
“This involves maintenance and new construction. In the period 2004-05 to 2006-07, the Queensland Government is spending $11.7 million on the Outback Highway redevelopment. Of this, $230,000 will be allocated to the Donohue Highway,” he said. He said work is expected to commence on upgrading the Outback Highway prior to the end of this year.
The projects to be funded have grown from a proposal nominated by the Outback Highway Development Council., formed in 1997 and encompass the Laverton Shire Council and the Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku (WA), the Docker River-Kaltukajaa Community (NT), the Alice Springs Town Council (NT), and the Boulia and Winton shires (QLD).