The long-awaited Bunbury Outer Ring Road has reached its latest major milestone with expressions of interest open for its design and construction.

The State Government says workers and businesses in Bunbury and the broader South West will have some priority in the procurement process for the region’s biggest transport infrastructure project.

Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said an industry briefing would be held next month to help local businesses understand the process.

Ms Saffioti said it would also help the Government understand local capacity and capability to ensure the region’s workers were well placed to take up opportunities throughout the project.

“A key focus of the Bunbury Outer Ring Road is to provide employment and business opportunities for local workers and businesses in Bunbury and the wider South West region,” Ms Saffioti said.

“Aboriginal participation will be mandated with targets put in place for both Aboriginal employment and engagement of Aboriginal businesses.”

The $852 million project includes constructing the remaining stages of a 27km link connecting Forrest Highway near Treendale to Bussell Highway.

The proposed scope of the project includes a new four-lane rural freeway, grade separated interchanges at several locations including Forrest Highway, Raymond Road and Bussell Highway and bridge river crossings at Collie, Ferguson and Preston rivers.

It will also include two rail crossings, road connections and a path for cyclists and pedestrians along the entire length of the road.

Construction is set to start in early 2021 subject to environmental and heritage approvals, but the Government has started the procurement process due to construction contracts expected to take about 12 months.

Expressions of interest can be made here.