Umbakumba Road Upgrade, Groote Eylandt


Client: Department of Construction and Infrastructure
Value: $25M (whole project)$80K (design only)
Timeframe: 2010


The Umbakumba road is an important link between Umbakumba on the east of Groote Eylandt and Angurugu on the west.  The existing unsealed road is approximately 47 km in length and traverses a variety of topography types of flood runoff areas, rocky ridges, sand dunes etc. with some sections having poor sight distances and drainage issues.  The project focused on sealing the road surface and improving alignment to accommodate up to 80 km/h travel speed within a limited available budget.

During the project a number of design issues arose including: excessive earthworks; protected environmental species; proximity to airports at Umbakumba and Angurugu ends; and need to implement a sustainable design.

The UNOMS project team was responsible for: undertaking a site inspection including review of existing geotechnical and topographical data; meeting with interested stakeholders; reviewing existing environment and road alignment; assessments of road condition and hydrology; structural assessment of the condition of culverts; and providing detailed design with specifications.

Key Project Achievements:

  • Delivered detailed engineering design on time and to a high quality standard.
  • Hydrological study delivered on time and to a high quality standard.
  • No variations occured on the project.
  • Stage 3 safety audit revelled minimal safety issues in the design allowing the design to be completed quickly.
  • Provided significant improvements to the existing road alignment to provide a safer road for users and an almost all weather access road within a limited budget.

Project Learnings:  

  • A sufficiently detailed survey is required in order to undertake a quality hydrological assessment and good quality design, particularly in very flat country.
  • Community users of roads have an excellent knowledge of the road condition and existing maintenance issues which when listened to provide valuable learnings for design and maintenance teams.
  • Undertake a road video was extremely useful for remote sites where sites visits are a costly  and time consuming issues which can lead to project delays. The road video undertaken allowed even small queries to be resolved quickly.


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