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 First Nations communities), tourists, mining operations and businesses in the area. The highway is unsealed for 60% of its 276 km length. The highway has been progressively sealed, with 110km remaining to be sealed. 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 lower equity outcomes for remote communities and 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 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit also identified the highway 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.