The Federal Coalition has committed to spend $33 million on the Outback Way, linking Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland.
The 2,800-kilometre Outback Way between Winton in Queensland and Laverton in Western Australia links the Plenty and Stuart highways and continues out to Docker River.
It is Australia’s longest shortcut.
Many roads in Australia's Outback are unsealed and most are dirt, sand or gravel. Many of the unsealed roads along the Outback Way harbor sections containing corrugations, loose rocks, pot-holes, creeks/wash-outs, floodways, stone build-ups, bulldust holes and graded mounds from road works.
Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles has welcomed the move, saying the upgrades to this important regional route are essential after years of neglect.
“Despite more than two decades in Canberra, Federal Labor Member for Lingiari, Warren Snowdon, has failed to deliver crucial road upgrades and has neglected the Territory’s infrastructure needs,” he said. “It serves as an important route for the self-drive tourist market, is increasingly becoming a growth transport corridor, and delivers benefits to regional communities across outback Australia."
The Outback Way consists of seven interconnecting roads and highways. It passes through the deserts of central Australia and has long been touted as a key infrastructure project for linking Australia's east and west coasts via the Red Centre. Alice Springs is at the very centre of this route and is regarded as having the potential to become an east-west freight hub.
Upgrading the worst sections of this road will improve reliability and connectivity for towns along this link. Connecting communities via better roads is seen as an important step towards building economic development and job opportunities for people in the bush.
“The Territory Government is keen to see increased mining investment and mineral exploration in Central Australia and road upgrades are crucial to making that happen,” said Giles. “The Outback Way provides an important link for the central and western grazing industry and upgrades will improve efficiency for cattle industry movements, reducing the cost of production for cattle transporters in the NT and Queensland.”