WORKS have begun on a flood-prone section of the Oodnadatta Track in South Australia’s far northwest.

The works are to improve access after rain and help motorists, including freight drivers, avoid becoming stranded between Marla and Oodnadatta.

The Oodnadatta Track is 600 kilometres of unsealed road between Marla and Maree, and provides a vital freight link for local communities, pastoralists and tourists.

Five major floodways will be rebuilt along an 80-kilometre section of unsealed road between the remote towns of Marla and Oodnadatta, with each floodway reinforced with cement and sealed to make it easier for vehicles to drive on when the track is wet.

Formation works will also take place to raise the surface level of the track in targeted areas, creating table drains which allow water to run off the road, enabling the Oodnadatta Track to remain open or be reopened sooner after rainfall.

Concrete walls and mesh Gabion baskets filled with stones will be constructed on both sides of the floodways to prevent floodwaters from eroding the track.

New signage will also be installed to give drivers more warning and longer preparation time, improving safety for road users.

These works are occurring within the 207-kilometre section between Marla and Oodnadatta.

Construction of the upgraded floodways and formation works are expected to be completed by mid-2024.

The $10.6 million project is funded by the Australian and South Australian governments with the Australian government committing more than $8.7 million under the Roads to Recovery Program.

Federal minister for infrastructure and transport Catherine King said the government is committed to working with our state counterparts to deliver local road and community infrastructure projects that have a lasting impact in communities big and small.

“Our Roads to Recovery program helps local councils deliver priority local road and community infrastructure projects across the country to improve safety and keep communities connected,” she said.

“The Oodnadatta Track upgrades in South Australia will do just that for this busy road network and make it easier and safer for motorists, particularly during severe weather events.”

South Australian minister for regional roads Geoff Brock said it is vital to maintain and upgrade the key outback road.

“Too many times we’ve seen road users become stranded along the track following intense rain and these works will help vehicles and caravans avoid becoming bogged in a remote location,” he said.

“The upgrades will also save freight trucks from having to take a much longer route to their destination if the track is cut off.”