New Bow River Bridge builds Great Northern Highway resilience

  • New bridge officially opens following seven-month construction period
  • Old single-lane bridge replaced with a higher and safer two-lane bridge
  • Greater flood resilience and improved accessibility for Great Northern Highway
  • Aboriginal employees and suppliers played a significant role in the delivery of the project

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti officially opened the new and improved Bow River Bridge, in the Kimberley region, alongside local community representatives and workers involved in the project.

The $38.49 million project was a joint initiative of the Commonwealth and Western Australian governments.

Road users, freight carriers, tourists and the local community in the Kimberley region now have access to a new and improved Bow River Bridge, which is more flood resilient and provides greater accessibility and safety on the Great Northern Highway.

The old single-lane, low-level bridge built in 1965 was frequently overtopped by flood waters, cutting off the only sealed access between Broome and Wyndham.

The new 249 metre, two-lane, high-level concrete bridge is more resilient to floods and will keep people and freight moving safely and efficiently across northern Australia.

The project also involved the realignment of 2.3 kilometres of highway, high-level road embankments and a new sealed parking area.

In consultation with the local Warmun community, 80 per cent of the old bridge is being retained given its importance to the community.

A significant proportion of the project’s workforce and suppliers were Aboriginal people from within the region. One Aboriginal team member who worked on the new bridge was also part of the original crew that constructed the original bridge more than 50 years ago.

The $38.49 million project was jointly funded by the Australian ($30.79 million) and Western Australian ($7.7 million) governments.

As stated by Transport Minister Rita Saffioti:

“Aboriginal participation was a large focus for the project, with total labour hours worked by local and non-local Aboriginal people consistently exceeding 30 per cent.

“This work forms part of the Government’s new Aboriginal Procurement Policy, which requires all government agencies to award a percentage of contracts each year to registered Aboriginal businesses.

“Main Roads has been a lead agency in the exploration of opportunities for progressing Aboriginal employment and engagement initiatives.

“The old Bow River Bridge was well known for flooding resulting in Great Northern Highway – the only sealed access between Broome and Wyndham – being cut off and creating delays for freight operators.”

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