Thousands witness the official ribbon cutting
The State’s single largest road project was opened on Sunday, 20 September 2009, signalling a new era for the Western Australian road network.
To mark this momentous occasion, a civic ceremony was held at the Pinjarra Road interchange in Ravenswood where the Kwinana Freeway extension meets the Forrest Highway.
Cutting the ribbon and officially opening the route was Premier Colin Barnett, Senator Chris Evans, Transport Minister Simon O’Brien, Member for Canning Don Randall, SGA representative Ray Sputore and previous Transport Minister Alannah MacTiernan.
In his opening speech the Premier said the construction of the Kwinana Freeway extension and Forrest Highway would provide a world-class transport corridor and bring immeasurable long term economic benefits for the South West.
“The opening of the freeway extension and new highway will take 30 minutes off the journey between Perth and Bunbury and provide a much safer route,” he said.
“It will significantly enhance tourism opportunities for the South West region, one of the most popular destinations for Western Australians as well as interstate and overseas visitors.
“This project is more than just a simple road; it is an intergenerational investment in Perth and the broader South West’s future.”
Transport Minister Simon O’Brien acknowledged the workers, saying the project was a credit to the thousands of men and women who worked on it, rather than any one government or person.
“More than 3,000 workers toiled for a combined 3.8 million man hours without a lost time injury to bring this project to fruition. Each and every one of them is to be congratulated on a job well done,” he said.
The opening ceremony also acknowledged the original landowners and a “Welcome to Country” was provided by Winjan Association elder Harry Nannup Senior.
Thousands of people braved the weather to attend the ceremony, with an additional 2,500 taking part in the 32km cycling event on the Kwinana Freeway, making it one of the largest road opening events in Main Roads’ WA history.
Shuttles transferred guests to and from the interchange and the Peel Concert Band, Peel Zoo, face painters and clowns kept those in attendance entertained. The road was opened to traffic, under police escort, later in the day.
Cyclists first to use the Kwinana Freeway
Approximately 2,500 people braved the weather to take part in the cycling event held in conjunction with the Kwinana Freeway extension and Forrest Highway opening.
The event, organised by CycloSportif, comprised three categories and encouraged all those from avid riders to families to cycle the new route before it was opened to traffic later in the day.
Participants rode the entire 32 kilometre freeway extension, starting at the Safety Bay Road interchange and finishing at the opening ceremony site at Pinjarra Road just prior to the official proceedings.
On return, the cyclists travelled along the Principal Shared Path (PSP).
SGA and CycloSportif received very positive feedback about the event, with most cyclists relishing in the opportunity to use the road before vehicles and be part of the momentous event.
Traditional owners welcome the project
The original landowners of the terrain which most of the Kwinana Freeway extension and Forrest Highway traverses, the Winjan people, welcomed the project and all those in attendance at the ceremony through local elder Harry Nannup Senior.
In his “Welcome to Country”, Mr Nannup acknowledged the proximity of the new route to his people’s revered sites and was complimentary of the way they were respected during construction.
“Some lands that have crossed this road have come close to sites that are sacred to us, and the Alliance has been very good,” he said.
Mr Nannup also congratulated the project’s achievements and highlighted the importance of road safety on the new highway.
“This is a great day for all of us and this road is about saving lives,” he commented.
“Welcome to everyone, God bless this area and this road and I hope we keep it clean.”
Following Mr Nannup’s speech, local group the Binjarreb Koorlangka Dance Theatre contributed to the welcome with traditional dance.