The Karratha-Tom Price Road links the key activity centres of Karratha and Tom Price, and provides access and connectivity to remote communities (including local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities), tourists, and businesses in the area. The road is currently unsealed for 60% of its 276 km length. The 2015 Northern Australia Audit identified that the road has one of northern Western Australia’s highest traffic volumes and growth rates.
The unsealed condition of the Karratha-Tom Price Road constrains mining, freight and tourism opportunities in the region, as well as contributing to a high road crash toll.
The 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit noted that lower levels of infrastructure service in remote areas can reinforce social and economic inequalities.
The Audit also identified the Karratha-Tom Price Road as having double-digit growth rates over the preceding nine years. The scale of the problem could therefore be expected to increase significantly over time.
Providing a sealed road that is resistant to weather events will improve access for local/remote communities and businesses throughout the year. It will also improve the potential to develop new mines in the area and provide capacity for increased road volumes and opportunities for increased tourism activity. It would also provide a shorter connection from Paraburdoo to Karratha via Tom Price.
The Infrastructure Priority List also includes the need to improve road access to remote Western Australian communities as a Priority Initiative.
Proponent to identify initiatives and develop options (Stage 2 of Infrastructure Australia’s Assessment Framework).