Transport Minister Eric Charlton said today a major improvement in safety, travel time and transport efficiency between Varley and Hyden would result from today's opening of a new 19km section of Brookton Highway linking the two towns.
Mr Charlton said replacing the original sub-standard gravel link between the centres cost $16 million, with the final section costing $2.5 million.
"We now have 55km of high-quality sealed road built on a new alignment which reduces travel distance between the towns by nearly 20km," he said.
"Brookton Highway is a key transport route for the State's southern wheatbelt and that is why completion of the upgrading has been made a priority by the State Government."
Mr Charlton said nearly $18 million had been spent on upgrading Brookton Highway since the Coalition Government came to office in 1993 but more needed to be done. The next section programmed for improvement was road-widening between Hyden and Corrigin but that project needed an additional funding source.
"Main Roads has budgeted $8.4 million in its 10-year road program to begin this vital work and scoping for the project is already under way," the Minister said.
"Main Roads is also looking to incorporate in this project improvements worth $500,000 to the major T-junction five kilometres east of Hyden, which has been the scene of several bad crashes, including a fatality.
"A further $15 million is needed to upgrade the Hyden-Corrigin link to an appropriate standard within the next 10 years. The project is one of a $1 billion worth of unfunded works identified by the Government as strategically important to the State."
Mr Charlton said the Hyden-Varley road project received strong support from the local community, which saw it as an important all weather link to the south and the west for people living in the Lakes District.
"The route now provides a high standard link between Hyden and Esperance for transport operators servicing the agricultural and mining industries, as well as communities along the way," he said.
"The road is also a tribute to local identity Theo Marshall, whose commitment and determination to see this road improved is rewarded by today's opening."
Media contact: Doug Cunningham 08 9321 7333