South Australia’s peak transport body has welcomed the government’s commitment to fixing the chronic backlog of roadworks in this week’s state budget.
The South Australian Freight Council (SAFC) executive officer Evan Knapp says the $283 million allocated for works will make a serious dent in the $800 million-plus schedule of maintenance projects.
“There should now be a real impact on road maintenance from a combination of funds from both the State and Commonwealth,” Knapp said.
“Road maintenance might not traditionally win votes, but it most definitely saves lives and prevents roads declining to the point where they must be completely reconstructed at massive cost.”
While welcoming the significant maintenance boost in 2021/22, Knapp said road maintenance momentum must be maintained in future years if a significant improvement is to be locked in.
“Realistically government cannot afford to take a step back until the full $800 million plus road maintenance backlog is eliminated.”
SAFC also welcomed matching funding for the key projects announced in the Commonwealth Budget – including the Augusta Highway Duplication Stage 2 to Lochiel; the Truro Bypass on the Sturt Highway and the full sealing of the Strzelecki Track.
“However, as this state budget has not set the government’s transport infrastructure platform for the upcoming election, SAFC now looks forward to further announcements over the coming months, particularly with the knowledge that there is transport contingency funding now available with the cancellation of the Hove Level Crossing Project,” said Knapp.
The state government said the federal government was not prepared to cover the extra cost of the ‘rail under’ Hove model preferred by some locals, which was set to cost up to $450 million.
Money saved there will now be channelled into the North-South Corridor project whis is now costing $9.9 billion – $1 billion more than forecast at the last budget.
The new cost is based on increasing the number of tunnel lanes from two to three to handle higher traffic volumes.
In other road transport budget news, the Marshall government also committed $5.9 million over four years to implement driver training reforms for the light and heavy vehicles industries, and ongoing expenditure to administer the new reforms.
The driver training reforms include the implementation of an online register, mandatory driver training and assessment, vehicle requirements, higher eligibility and entry requirements and mandatory cameras in vehicles.