STATE government spending on country roads is set for a significant increase, with the upcoming budget including a record amount of new funding to improve regional roads.
Premier Steven Marshall said the government's $1.1-billion investment in regional roads was designed to improve road safety, build regional communities and create jobs.
"This is the single biggest investment in regional roads in SA's history, and a true reflection of the value we place on our regions and saving lives on our roads," Mr Marshall said.
"Regional SA is the backbone of our economy and our exports, and I'm confident that this record investment will unlock further economic potential across a range of industries, from agriculture to mining."
This senseless loss of life on our roads simply has to stop.
He said the state's road toll was "unacceptably high", and improving the condition of regional roads was one way to try and reduce the number of people being killed on our roads.
"This senseless loss of life on our roads simply has to stop," he said.
Related reading:State budget: Levy proposed to fund key outback services
The government will spend $237m across four years on regular road maintenance, while $250m has been allocated to upgrade the Princes Highway.
Under the Improving our Regional Roads initiative, $143m will be spent across eight years upgrading roads, including adding overtaking lanes and sealing road shoulders. A further $55m will be spent on the Horrocks Highway corridor, while $92m will be put towards duplicating Victor Harbor Road between Main South Road and McLaren Vale.
The initiative also includes $14m for access to Thomas Foods International's new processing facility at Murray Bridge, $11m to improve access to the SA Livestock Exchange at Dublin, $14m towards the Naracoorte and Kroemers Crossing roundabout and $1m to open Bratten Bridge to road trains.
Efficient transport infrastructure and freight corridors are integral to operating productive and profitable farming businesses.
Projects included in the Roads of Strategic Importance program have also been slated to receive state government funding, such as $125m for the Eyre Highway from Port Augusta to the WA border - including $32m to upgrade Eyre Peninsula roads - $87.5m to improve Sturt Highway from Renmark to Gawler and $62.5m for the Barrier Highway between Cockburn and Burra.
The increased spending has been welcomed by Primary Producers chair Rob Kerin, who echoed the Premier's sentiments about improving road safety to reduce the road toll.
"Like many stakeholders in rural SA, PPSA has been particularly alarmed at the loss of life on country roads this year," Mr Kerin said.
Related reading:Federal Budget 2019: $100b for roads
"We welcome the increased investment and implore all motorists to drive according to the road conditions and to be safe."
He said the $878m in new funding would begin to "reduce the backlog of upgrades and maintenance that has been required in recent years".
"We see this as an investment in the future growth and development of primary production in SA because efficient transport infrastructure and freight corridors are integral to operating productive and profitable farming businesses."
- Start the day with all the big news in agriculture. Click here to sign up to receive our daily Stock Journal newsletter.