Floodway upgrades set to build resilience of two key outback connector roads

Floodway upgrades along Kempe Road and Anne Beadell Highway, near Coober Pedy in the far north of South Australia, get underway from this week to improve the resilience of the roads and keep outback townships connected during future flooding events.

The $3.4 million worth of floodway upgrades are funded by the Australian Government’s Local Roads and Community Infrastructure (LRCI) Program.

The upgrades on Kempe Road will be undertaken at Lora Creek and Arckaringa Creek, between Coober Pedy and Oodnadatta, and the Anne Beadell Highway upgrades will occur at two floodways between The Ghan railway line and Coober Pedy.

Kempe Road is a key road linking Coober Pedy with the remote community of Oodnadatta and wet weather can cause significant damage to the road, as occurred during the early 2022 flood event when road access was cut off to Oodnadatta.

Anne Beadell Highway is heavily used by bus companies to commute tourists from The Ghan services to Coober Pedy and when the road becomes flooded during wet weather tourists have to remain on the train for extended periods of time.

Works on both roads are being undertaken by SA Road Services on behalf of the Department for Infrastructure and Transport and will include floodway repairs and improved drainage.

The Kempe Road works commenced on Wednesday, 24 May and are expected to be completed by the end of August 2023, weather permitting.

The Anne Beadell Highway works will commence shortly after and be completed in late June 2023. Speed and lane restrictions may be required during work hours.

Meanwhile, the Outback Communities Authority (OCA) is delivering 30 projects that have been funded by the LRCI Program, ranging between $5,000 and $1 million in value.

This includes a $1 million contribution in partnership with RFDS to build the organisation’s new $2 million purpose-built remote area health clinic at William Creek.

Work has commenced on all of the projects and they are on track for completion by June 2024.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Territories, and Member for Eden-Monaro, the Hon Kristy McBain MP:

"The LRCI Program supports local councils to deliver priority local road and community infrastructure projects across the nation.

“This is an investment in supporting jobs and delivering benefits to local communities, investing not only in upgrades to roads, but also community halls, parks and sports facilities, bike paths and playgrounds.

“We know what a difference good local roads and community facilities can make, particularly in regional and rural communities.

“I am delighted to see outback South Australia benefiting from this investment.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Local Government and Regional Roads, the Hon Geoff Brock MP:

"The floodway upgrades we’re delivering on Kempe Road and Anne Beadell Highway will significantly improve connectivity and road safety at these remote locations.

“The outback flood event in January/February 2022 was particularly difficult for the Oodnadatta community, as it became isolated from the rest of the state due to the flood-related closures of all its connector roads, including Kempe Road.

“The floodway upgrades on Kempe Road, at Lora Creek and Arckaringa Creek, will therefore improve connectivity to Oodnadatta by ensuring the road will stay open longer, and be reopened more rapidly, following intense rain.

“As Anne Beadell Highway links The Ghan rail line to Coober Pedy, the floodway works there will support the movement of passengers to the township for tours and recreational activities, which are important to the area’s tourism.

“It’s also pleasing to note that works have commenced on all of the LRCI projects being delivered by the OCA.

“These projects will result in much-needed improved community infrastructure for our remote outback communities.”

Quotes attributable to Director, Office for the Outback Communities Authority, Marg Howard:

"Communities across outback SA are benefitting from upgrades to existing infrastructure and facilities – as well as new projects.

“Not only do these improve liveability for people who make the outback their home, they also create better amenity for visitors to the region.”