From tomorrow, all 12 River Murray crossings will be serviced by steel-hulled vessels, marking the end of load restrictions on the ferry network.
Transport and Infrastructure Minister Stephen Mullighan said this was part of a $12.8 million commitment to renew the ferry fleet.
“We know how important these crossings are to everyone living along the Murray, not to mention transport operators, tourists and anyone who travels to these communities,” he said.
“It’s the end of an era for the outdated timber-hulled ferries which have reached the end of their useful life, with the last one to be removed from operation.”
Mr Mullighan said there were already three brand new steel ferries in operation with a fourth fitted out ahead of next year.
Two ferries were commissioned at Lyrup in November 2015 and Narrung in July 2016, while the third new ferry was commissioned at Tailem Bend last week, enabling the steel-hulled ferry at that location to be relocated to Mannum – the only river location with two ferry crossings.
The fourth steel-hulled ferry is under construction and is expected to be commissioned at Walker Flat mid next year.
All of the new hulls have been made locally by Bowhill Engineering, which is also building one of the 3000-tonne road bridges for the $620 million Darlington Upgrade Project in Adelaide.
SA’s first River Murray ferry crossing was established in 1839 by a private operator and the State Government took over the service in 1849.
The last four timber-hulled ferries were between 60 and 80 years old and were required to operate under load restrictions.