Road maintenance workers previously employed by contractors have returned in-house under Main Roads WA control, a move it says will improve service delivery in the region.

The State Government announced in 2022 that road maintenance would be brought in-house with Main Roads.

In a statement last month, Deputy Premier and Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said 31 new and transitioning employees would join Main Roads in the Pilbara.

A new depot is being established in Onslow.

Main Roads Pilbara Regional Director Andrew Pike said the move to in-house maintenance would help to develop long-term relationships with local contractors.

In a presentation to Port Hedland Industries Council’s Community Industry Forum last month, he said the move also increased residential staff in the area and would deliver a more effective response to natural disasters and other emergencies.

He provided an overview of the scale of works across the Pilbara, from major bridge works to road widening and culvert repairs.

The work supported increased mining company traffic, and improved safety at rail crossings, truck stops and intersections.

Road works in Onslow includes haul route modifications to Onslow Road and North West Coastal Highway to accommodate autonomous road trains.

In Port Hedland, one of the major construction jobs is the realignment of Great Northern highway between Bell Street and the Goldsworthy level crossing.

The project has received State and Federal Government funding along with BHP funding, with stage two due for completion in early 2024.

It includes construction of a 31m, single span bridge.

The project faced delays caused by a high demand for beams because of the extent of infrastructure projects underway across the State.

Five beams were sourced and installed at the end of October.

Recently completed projects included:

  • Hedland Road rail safety improvements, fully funded by BHP ($28 million).
  • Munjina Roy Hill Road bridge ($30 million).
  • Auski heavy vehicle rest area and intersection upgrades.
  • Newman road train assembly area upgrade
  • Karijini drive rest area upgrade
  • Manuwarra Red Dog Highway Stage Two ($38 million).

Existing and future Pilbara projects include:

  • Pavement repairs at various locations across the network, including Great Northern Highway, Karijini Drive, Manuwarra Red Dog Highway, Marble Bar Rd, North West Coastal Highway, Paraburdoo – Tom Price Rd, Port Hedland Road, and Ripon Hills Rd, with completion expected by the end of this month ($9 million).
  • Widening 1.6km of Burrup Peninsula Road.
  • Construction of a bridge over the Rio Tinto mainline into Dampier on the North West Coastal Highway ($45 million).
  • Great Northern Highway upgrade, including four lanes on Great Northern Highway and Lumsden Point access roads. Jointly funded by Main Roads, Pilbara Ports Authority, and the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation ($50 million).
  • Nine overtaking lanes from Newman to Port Hedland to be built over four years.