The Bunbury Outer Ring Road project is a step closer with the major construction contract signed, unlocking thousands of local jobs and economic benefits.
The biggest infrastructure project ever to be undertaken in Western Australia's South-West will be constructed by a consortium comprising Acciona, NRW Contracting, MACA Civil, AECOM and Aurecon named South West Gateway Alliance.
This $852 million project will construct a 27-kilometre, four-lane, high-standard road from Forrest Highway near Australind to Bussell Highway, south of Bunbury.
Once complete, new connections of Forrest Highway to Bussell Highway and South Western Highway will greatly improve freight capacity, efficiency and productivity across the region.
It will also mean tourists heading south will save up to 15 minutes in travel time.
Local employment and business opportunities are a priority for the project with a target spend of $300 million set to encourage and maximise local South-West industry participation.
Promoting and maximising local Aboriginal participation is also a priority for the project. There is a $20 million target spend for Aboriginal businesses and an employment target equivalent to 60 full time Aboriginal people engaged on the project over its three-year construction period.
The South West Gateway Alliance is committed to sustainably delivering the project by working with the local recycling industry to maximise opportunities to safely reuse waste materials in construction.
The Alliance will commence detailed design while the State and Commonwealth environmental approvals processes continue.
A number of other activities that do not require environmental approval will also be occurring, including geotechnical investigations, planning for the relocations of services and meetings with local stakeholders.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the Australian Government had made it a priority to fast-track regional projects that were ready to start to get money flowing into jobs and businesses as soon as possible.
"Our focus is getting people back into work quickly, which is why we allocated $1.5 billion to prioritise shovel-ready projects and targeted road safety works that can provide a boost to the economy and support jobs immediately," the Deputy Prime Minister said.
"We are investing in our post-pandemic future by delivering lasting infrastructure which will kick-start our economic recovery and benefit Australians for years to come.
"The Australian Government's $100 billion, 10-year infrastructure pipeline will support our economy and create jobs, particularly for those in the construction and manufacturing industries."
Premier Mark McGowan said his Government was investing in major transport infrastructure projects to help kick-start the economy as it recovers from the impacts of COVID-19.
"We are building Western Australia's economy back up from the pandemic by embarking on Building for Tomorrow, the biggest transport infrastructure program WA has seen," he said.
"Investing in well-planned transport projects will keep the Greater Bunbury region moving and boost its status as a major economic regional centre while providing better road infrastructure for locals and visitors.
"The project will deliver significant benefits for the economy both during its construction and once in operation, unlocking thousands of local jobs."
WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the McGowan Government was spending more than $260 million a month on major transport infrastructure projects with $100 million being spent in regional Western Australia.
"The Bunbury Outer Ring Road is the biggest transport infrastructure project ever planned for the South-West and will generate significant economic and employment opportunities," she said.
"We have worked hard to fast track this project so we can get shovels in the ground and work underway as soon as possible.
"Maximising local business procurement is a key objective for the project with a target spend of $300 million set to encourage and maximise local South-West industry participation."
Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories and Member for Forrest Nola Marino said this had been a major project for the South-West region for many years.
"This project has been planned for a number of years, recognising the significance of delivering vital infrastructure to provide a safer and more efficient road system for the South West region of Western Australia," she said.
"Removing freight and regional traffic from local roads will provide relief for local residents while maintaining easy access to Bunbury and other regional destinations.
"From day one I've been determined to see as much local South West procurement involved in the construction of this project as possible."
Bunbury MLA Don Punch said the new Bunbury Outer Ring Road will support local businesses and jobs while also improving safety and efficiency.
"This new road will create new connections of Forrest Highway to Bussell Highway and South Western Highway," he said.
"It will significantly reduce pressure on Bunbury's local road connections especially around Glen Iris and the Bunbury Regional Hospital. Local residents will see significantly reduced congestion within Bunbury as a consequence.
The $852 million Bunbury Outer Ring Road project is jointly-funded with the Australian Government contributing 80 per cent ($681.6 million) and the State Government contributing 20 per cent ($170.4 million).