Main Roads Western Australia

Main Roads Western Australia
Agency overview
Formed 1 January 1930
Jurisdiction Government of Western Australia
Agency executive
  • Richard Sellers, Commissioner
Parent agency Department of Transport

Main Roads Western Australia (formerly the Main Roads Department) is an agency of the Government of Western Australia that is responsible for implementing the state's policies on road access and main roads. It operates under the Main Roads Act 1930 (WA).[1]

The Department manages more than 17,800 kilometres of roads, representing the arterial road network in Western Australia. Each of the roads must be declared a "public highway" or "main road" in the Government Gazette and is allocated a state route number – many roads perceived as main roads by the public are in fact managed by local councils.

Main Roads Western Australia also regulates heavy vehicles through the issue of permits and notices under the authority granted to the Commissioner of Main Roads under the Road Traffic Act 1974. The Road Transport Compliance Section, a section within the Department, employs Transport Inspectors who, alongside police officers, monitor heavy vehicle movement and enforce the Road Traffic Act 1974.



The first roads in Western Australia were built during the settlement of the Swan River Colony in the late 1820s. Prior to this, narrow bush tracks had been used by the local Aboriginal people. In 1871, local governments were established, often called Road Boards in rural areas. Their primary function was to create and maintain the roads network in their local areas. Most of these rural roads, especially in the Wheatbelt, connected farms to the state government's extensive rail network, usually covering a distance of less than 20 miles (32 km). By the end of World War I, technology such as the internal combustion engine had advanced considerably. Following the war, there was a tenfold increase in the number of motor vehicles in Western Australia, from 2,538 in 1918 to 25,270 in 1927. Motor transport was very efficient compared to horse-drawn vehicles, and also more efficient than railways for short distances. In 1923, recognising the importance of road transportation, the Commonwealth government began granting a combined total of £500,000 per year to the state governments for road improvement works. In 1926, the funding level was increased, with Western Australia allocated £672,000. The Roads and Bridges Branch of the State Government's Public Works Department would not be able to spend such a large amount of money, so a Main Roads Board was established in July 1926. The board worked in cooperation with local governments, taking over the development of significant roads, and providing assistance for others. District offices were set up in regional areas to better coordinate work undertaken there, and liaise with those local governments.[1]

Early 20th century

The Great Depression, which started in 1929, brought chaos into the new system. The Board was dissolved, and replaced by a Commissioner of Main Roads, the first of which was Edward Tindale. All the district offices were closed down, with the workers laid off. The number of staff in Perth was reduced from 107 to 41, and salaries were also lowered. During the 1930s, Main Roads was able to provide work for the unemployed, as road construction at that time required many labourers. Large groups of men spent one or two weeks in camps, constructing roads. With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, a smaller labour force undertook works for Main Roads, which were primarily for military purposes, such as aerodromes and parade grounds. The late 1940s were a boom-time for Main Roads. Government funding and support increased, and new equipment such as power graders, front-end loaders, and large trucks allowed work to be undertaken more efficiently. The amount of work meant there was a high demand for workers – the re-established regional divisions became employment hubs for European migrants.[1]


The head of Main Roads WA is the Commissioner.

See also

Australian Roads portal


  1. 1 2 3 Edmonds, Leigh (1996), The vital link : a history of Main Roads Western Australia 1926-1996, University of Western Australia Press, ISBN 978-1-876268-06-0
  2. Nomination of Perth's Causeway Bridges for an Engineering Heritage Australia Heritage Recognition Award (PDF), Engineers Australia, 4 August 2012, p. 17, archived from the original (PDF) on 11 October 2015
  3. History of Western Australia's Highways: And Main Roads WA - the organization that built them, archived from the original on 20 August 2006
  4. Main Roads WA (2011), Main Roads Annual Report 2011 (PDF), Western Australian Government, p. 11, archived from the original (PDF) on 24 April 2016
  5. Albert Tognolini, Monument Australia, archived from the original on 20 August 2016
  6. His Excellency Dr Kenneth Comninos Michael AC: 2006-2011, Western Australian Government, archived from the original on 17 July 2014
  7. Charlton, Eric (27 August 1997). "Ross Drabble appointed A/Commissioner of Main Roads" (Press release). Western Australian Government. Archived from the original on 20 August 2016.
  8. Criddle, Murray (10 February 1999). "Greg Martin to take over position of acting Main Roads Commissioner" (Press release). Western Australian Government. Archived from the original on 20 August 2016.
  9. Criddle, Murray (3 May 2000). "New Commissioner of Main Roads named" (Press release). Western Australian Government. Archived from the original on 20 August 2016.
  10. Main Roads Western Australia (2003), Main Roads Western Australia Annual Report 2003 (PDF), Western Australian Government, p. 8
  11. Main Roads WA (September 2009), Main Roads Western Australia Annual Report '09 (PDF), Western Australian Government, p. 12, archived from the original (PDF) on 14 May 2013
  12. "Main Roads Alumni Newsletter", Main Roads Alumni Newsletter (13), p. 1, December 2012
  13. O'Brien, Simon. "New transport boss appointed" (Press release). Western Australian Government. Archived from the original on 20 August 2016.
  14. Lawson, Rebecca (21 April 2010). "Waldock in new WA transport role". Business News Western Australia.

External links

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