Nine-tenths of the Queensland section of the Outback Way – the “short cut” between Cairns and Perth – will sealed after works announced by the federal government on Wednesday.
Canberra has committed funding to five projects worth $26 million to seal and widen priority sections of the Outback Way in Queensland, including works on the Kennedy and Diamantina Developmental roads and the Donohue Highway.
Speaking in Boulia, Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said nearly 70km of upgrades would be delivered in Queensland, including two projects worth $8.7 million for 26km of widening works on the Kennedy Developmental Road, two projects to seal 41km of Donohue Highway to a two-lane standard, worth $16.7 million, and $1.01 million to deliver 2km of widening works on the Diamantina Developmental Road.
“These works have been identified following an independent review of the Outback Way to identify high-priority sections requiring upgrades in the short term, with the results of the review used to inform the allocation of the $100 million commitment,” Mr Chester said.
“Following the delivery of these five projects, less than 10 per cent of the Outback Way in Queensland will remain unsealed, delivering benefits for the industries and communities who use this key east-west route to access economic opportunities and essential services.”
Federal Member for Maranoa David Littleproud said the upgrades would improve road reliability, reduce travel times, cut costs for freight operators and enhance economic opportunities for communities and industry throughout regional Queensland.
“The works will create safer overtaking opportunities and improved sight distance for drivers, which is critical to supporting the safe movement for the mix of vehicles that use the Outback Way,” Mr Littleproud said.
“Construction of one of the Queensland sections to be upgraded is expected to start later this year, with other projects to be delivered progressively in the coming years.”
The federal government has committed up to $100 million to deliver 13 projects across the Outback Way, with the Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australian governments, and relevant local councils, contributing the remaining 20 per cent required for each project, totalling $25 million.
The Outback Way links Winton in Queensland to Laverton in WA around 2700km away – half of it remains unsealed.
There are links on to Cairns and Perth in either direction, for a total distance of 4615km.