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Albany Beltway open to traffic

The largest road infrastructure project in Western Australia’s Great Southern region – the Albany Ring Road – is officially open to motorists.

The bypass has provided an 11-kilometer link between the original section of Menang Drive east of Albany Highway and Princess Royal Drive, including three grade-separated interchanges at Albany Highway, South Coast Highway and Hanrahan Road.

The northern section of the bypass, between Albany Highway and South Coast Highway, as well as the new Frenchman Bay Road interchange, opened to traffic before Easter, resulting in an immediate improvement in traffic flow.

The new road will route heavy vehicles around Albany, improving freight efficiency and supporting the long-term economic viability of the Port of Albany.

It will also significantly improve traffic flow and safety on the existing road network by reducing the number of heavy vehicles on Albany Highway, South Coast Highway and Chester Pass Road.

Currently, hundreds of trucks travel to and from the port every day, which increases significantly during harvest. It is expected that the new ring road will remove these trucks from the local road network.

When opened, the completed ring road will be known as Menang Drive, in recognition of the Menang Noongar people, the traditional owners of the area.

In addition to the project, significant improvements have been made to the local cycling network, including a new shared path on the Frenchman Bay Road bridge, which will connect the Torndirrup Peninsula to the existing network north of the freight railway line.

The project has invested approximately $54 million in businesses across the Great Southern, supporting local jobs and contracting opportunities.

$6.4 million has been spent on Aboriginal businesses and suppliers, while 10.5 per cent of construction worker hours have been provided by local First Nations people.

Other additional works to be carried out during the winter months include the installation of structures on the abutments of each of the three bridges. The artworks have been developed by local artists and their concepts are inspired by the spectacular local landscapes.

Meanwhile, the state government has committed to a new flyover at the intersection of Menang Drive and Chester Pass Road.

The new viaduct will maximize the efficiency of the Albany Ring Road route by providing unobstructed access from Chester Pass Road to the harbour.

The $225 million project is jointly funded by the state and federal governments, with the federal government contributing $173 million, including an additional $33 million funded in the 2024-2025 federal budget.

Federal Minister of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Catherine King,

“It is great to see the Albany Ring Road, a critical project for the Great Southern region of Western Australia, becoming fully operational,” Ms King said.

“This project will ensure the long-term viability and efficiency of the Port of Albany by providing open road access.

“This will ultimately improve the competitiveness of exports from the region.”

Western Australian Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the Albany Ring Road is a once-in-a-generation project for the Great Southern region, providing a free-flowing freight link around the city and removing heavy vehicles from existing routes.

“The issue of heavy vehicles having to use local roads to reach the port has been a long-standing concern, which is why the Government has made this commitment to the people of Albany and the Great Southern,” Ms Saffioti said.

“Removing heavy vehicles from the existing local network will improve safety on Chester Pass Road, Albany Highway and South Coast Highway and increase amenities for both local residents and visitors.

“The new beltway will support the future economic growth of Albany and the Great Southern region by making truck movements to and from the Port of Albany as efficient as possible.”

Image: Remus747/shutterstock.com