Published: 01 November 2018

Legislative Council Wednesday 31 October, 2018

ASKED BY: Hon Ruth Forrest MLC

ANSWERED BY: Hon Leonie Hiscutt MLC, Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council

QUESTION: With regard to recent upgrades to the Murchison Highway and ongoing road works on this Highway;

1. Is the Government aware of the poor state of the roads that have been upgraded and are now very dangerous with many large and deep pot-holes along large sections of the highway?

2. Have any vehicle crashes or incidents occurred in the last two years on these sections of the Highway; and

a. If so, how many and were injuries sustained by drivers or passengers of the vehicles involved.

3. If the Government is aware of the poor state of this Highway;

a. What is the reason for such rapid deterioration of the road surface;

b. What actions are being taken to address the road conditions;

c. Who is responsible for the repairs and maintenance of the Murchison Highway; and

d. What is the timeframe for repair? and 

4. What action is the Government taking to ensure current and future road works on the Murchison Highway result in a higher quality road surface that can withstand the expected high rainfalls and significant volume of heavy vehicles that regularly use this highway?


1. The Department of State Growth has advised that sections of the recent upgrades on the Murchison Highway has experienced some deterioration of the sealed road surface since completion of the works in March 2018. The Department has made arrangements with contractors to temporarily repair the potholes as soon as possible. The speed limit has been temporarily reduced to 60 km/h in some sections until the permanent seal is completed. The temporary repair works and reduced speed limit will continue until weather conditions improve and a permanent seal can be applied.

2. Crash data for the last two years has been reviewed for the recently upgraded sections of the Murchison Highway. The data showed three crashes, two requiring first aid and one minor injury requiring visit to hospital. Police reports indicate that the crashes were caused by avoiding animals, falling asleep, and speeding in bad weather. Poor surface condition was not noted as a contributing factor to the crashes. Two crashes occurred in September 2016, prior to roadworks commencing, and one crash occurred in August 2018, after roadworks had been completed.

3. The cause of the rapid surface deterioration is not yet clear and is being actively investigated by the Department and the construction Contractor. Initial indications are that the deterioration could be due to either material quality or workmanship issues by the Contractor. The Contractor is responsible for the repairs and maintenance, placing of the permanent seal and all costs associated with rectification of defective works. However, once the cause of the failures is known, responsibility for the costs will be determined in consideration of all factors contributing to the failure including and in addition to defective work. As the weather improves over the coming weeks, the Contractor will undertake more significant repairs to the damaged pavement and will then apply a permanent seal. Until the permanent repairs are completed, the Contractor will continue to sweep excess gravel from the road and fill the potholes. Warning signage and visual message boards will remain in operation until the works are complete.

4. The Department will be reviewing its construction specifications and quality assurance processes to identify and manage any deficiencies that may have contributed to the recent surface deterioration. The Department will be undertaking regular auditing of the Contractor’s workmanship and quality control procedures to ensure that the works are completed in accordance with those specifications. Further investigation of the causes of the recent issues will help to refine this approach so that the final road surface is of a sufficient quality to withstand the expected weather conditions and traffic volumes.




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