Transport Minister Eric Charlton said today's State Government decision to upgrade and seal the road between Leinster and Mt Magnet and the link between Wiluna and Meekatharra would create major economic impetus for the Goldfields and the Mid- West.
"These two important roads are vital to the future development of the region and give the East Murchison high-quality, all-weather links between key centres," Mr Charlton said.
"The Wiluna to Meekatharra road was the only unsealed section of the Goldfields Highway and the completion of this project will see a top-quality transport route for a variety of users, including resource developers, tourists and people living in the region.
"The Goldfields Highway will become a sealed transport route from Meekatharra to Kalgoorlie," he said.
Mr Charlton said the big projects were part of TransformWA launched today by Premier Richard Court, a $1.3billion capital works package to complete the State's transport network.
Upgrading and sealing the Leinster-Sandstone-Mt Magnet road ($95million estimated construction cost) and the Wiluna-Meekatharra road ( estimated construction cost $70million) were a major focus of TransformWA .
"Communities in these important regional centres have been pushing for years to get these two major projects completed because of their strategic importance," he said.
"The mining and exploration industry will be a major beneficiary, along with tourism and pastoral enterprises."
Mr Charlton said work on the Mt-Magnet-Sandstone-Leinster road would start this year and was scheduled to be completed in 2001-2. Work on the Wiluna-Meekatharra road (Goldfields Highway) would also start this year with a completion date set for 2003-4.
Agricultural Region and National Party MLC Murray Criddle applauded the TransformWA program which he said was a catalyst for economic growth.
"A succession of previous State and Federal Governments largely neglected the transport network around Western Australia and this package of projects is crucial for our future development," he said.
Mr Criddle said another key project in the TransformWA package was the North West Coastal Highway and Oakajee Port Access project ($15million) and the Geraldton Southern Corridor Project ($31million).
"The southern corridor project will ensure Geraldton develops as a more attractive and more efficient regional centre which is better able to cope with traffic," he said.
"Development of the Port of Geraldton and the transport infrastructure to service the harbour has effectively cut off the Central Business District from the ocean.
"Development of the city has been restrained for some years because of the location and operation of major industry which includes the port and railway line."
Mr Criddle said public consultation was currently being carried out to find the best options for the implementation of the southern transport corridor while minimising the social impacts of the project on the community.
The Binnu East and West Roads ($2million) for grain haulage and the Carnarvon-Gascoyne road upgrade ($12.9million) were also key projects in the further economic development of the region.
"The sealing of the road between Leinster and Mt Magnet means Geraldton will have a top-quality transport link to the East Murchison nickel projects and goldfields," he said.
"This provides opportunity for the Port of Geraldton to service that region. The proposed Geraldton Southern Transport Corridor will allow haulage vehicles from the East Murchison and other areas more efficient access to the port."
"Eric Charlton has been inundated over the past few years with community requests to complete the unfinished sections of the State's transport network and I applaud him for being able to deliver this package of capital works."
Media contact: Doug Cunningham 9321 7333