Land transport access between Karratha and Tom Price

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Connectivity between Karratha and Tom Price
Priority Initiative
Location
Karratha and Tom Price, WA
Geography
Developing regions and northern Australia
Category
Regional Connectivity
Problem/Opportunity timeframe
Near term (0-5 years)
Proposed By
WA Government
Date added to the IPL
14 February 2019
Land transport access between Karratha and Tom Price

Problem

The Manuwarra Red Dog Highway 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 highway 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 highway 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 highways  having double-digit growth rates over the preceding nine years. The scale of the problem could therefore be expected to increase significantly over time.

Proposed initiative

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. Additionally, it would provide a shorter connection from Paraburdoo to Karratha via Tom Price.

The Infrastructure Priority List also includes a separate Priority Initiative to improve road access to remote Western Australian communities.
Several stages of the project are now under delivery. The Manuwarra Red Dog Highway was previously known as the Karratha–Tom Price Road before it was renamed in September 2020.

Next steps

Proponent to identify initiatives and develop options (Stage 2 of Infrastructure Australia’s Assessment Framework).