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WA's Great Northern Highway to reopen after devastating flooding cut road between Broome and Derby

Flood-impacted Kimberley towns Broome and Derby will be linked again by road, with the Great Northern Highway set to reopen on Thursday.

Record-breaking floods wreaked havoc in Australia's north-west last month as homes, businesses and critical infrastructure was inundated.

Derby bore the brunt of what was described as Western Australia's worst flood after heavy rains transformed the town into an island for weeks.

A 10km section of road close to Derby was extensively damaged by floodwaters, with 3km completely washed away.

Travel between Broome and Derby over recent weeks has only been possible by air, and crucial supplies were sent to Derby by barge and airplane.

However, a 40-person construction crew has been working on a single-lane gravel track to provide access through the damaged component of the highway.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said all vehicles would be able to access the highway from Thursday until Sunday, between the hours of 8am and 4pm.

From February 13 escorted access would be provided to motorists in a convoy system, twice daily, as further repairs were undertaken.

Departures from the Derby (east) side of the damaged section will leave at 7:30am and 4:30pm daily, with vehicles leaving from the Broome (west) side at 8am and 5pm.

Travel times across the 10km section are likely to take 15 to 20 minutes per convoy, with restricted speed limits and traffic controls in place.

Ms Saffioti said the speed of the repair works was an "incredible achievement".

"The floods have had a devastating impact and restricted connectivity in the Kimberley region," she said.

"I want to thank Main Roads and the hard-working road construction teams who have been out there working most days in some really challenging wet season conditions to get this temporary track completed in less than four weeks.

"I'd also like to thank the community for their patience and understanding as we continue work on restoring road access in the region."

Kimberley Regional Development Australia chair and Derby resident Elsia Archer said the road's reopening would ease pressure on the small far north town. 

"Hopefully, there’ll be some stability and things will get back to normal," she said.

"It’ll be good to get the trucks moving again so there can be that continuous rolling in of food."

Ms Archer was relieved about the temporary road fix but warned highway users to be cautious.

"I hope people appreciate that it is temporary and we have to take care and drive safely," she said.

Work continues in Fitzroy Crossing

Extensive damage to the Fitzroy River Bridge has restricted access in and out of Fitzroy Crossing in the Central Kimberleys.

Rebuild of the key piece of infrastructure could take years.

The state government confirmed a temporary barge system would be installed to provide access across the river.

While Ms Saffioti said recent rainfall and rising river levels had hampered construction of the barge, work had started on new landing foundations on the eastern side of the river.

The works were in preparation for an initial punt service to commence once river heights reduce to a safe level.

Ms Saffioti also said planning was underway for a temporary, low-level crossing which would provide a more reliable option while the new Fitzroy Crossing bridge was constructed.

A tender for that project will be awarded in coming weeks.

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