Roadwork snub disappoints Shire

Alexander ScottNorth West Telegraph
Landcruiser shadow. Heading north on Marble Bar Road at sunset, south of Nullagine, East Pilbara.
Camera IconLandcruiser shadow. Heading north on Marble Bar Road at sunset, south of Nullagine, East Pilbara. Credit: Stephen Scourfield The West Australian

A council in the heart of mining territory is taking Premier Mark McGowan to task by asking him why a portion of a $250 million tax refund generated by BHP royalties was not allocated to seal roads vital to the town's economy.

Shire of East Pilbara councillors have voted unanimously to write to Mr McGowan and question why funds were not allocated for the southern access roads in Nullagine and Marble Bar.

The council was referring to the 144km unsealed segment from Newman to Ripon Hills Road, that requires regular grading and maintenance for residents and road trains.

The settlement between BHP and the State Government led to $15 million directed towards improvements at Hedland Senior High School and $5 million for upgrades for Newman Hospital.

Shire president Lynn Craigie said the council recognised the Government had allocated the payment to worthy projects but felt a more significant portion of the amount could have been spent in the East Pilbara.

“We hope by making this approach, the State Government will recognise this was a missed opportunity and start talking to us about how they can direct funds to help improve and seal the Marble Bar road in the near future,” she said.

Ms Craigie said it was disappointing that the roads were overlooked at the same time as the Main Roads budget for maintaining and grading the unsealed section of the Marble Bar road had been significantly cut.

“The Marble Bar Road is critical infrastructure for the livelihood of towns like Newman, Nullagine and Marble Bar,” she said.

“Sealing the Marble Bar road would deliver better economic and safety outcomes for residents, tourists travelling through, and for mining companies freighting out products along that section of road.

“Large unsealed sections of the Marble Bar road were dangerous, despite the Shire of East Pilbara advocating for years to the State Government for the road to be upgraded and sealed.”

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