THE state government's pre-budget promise of $1.115 billion in regional road funding will go a long way towards addressing the backlog of maintenance required in this state, according to Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of SA president David Smith, Tumby Bay.
"We always want more money, but we are pleasantly surprised with how serious the government are about fixing known problem areas," he said.
"The Sturt Highway has needed upgrading for a long time, as do areas in the South East.
"The $32 million allocated to Eyre Peninsula roads will be sufficient in addressing any issues caused by the closure of rail, at least for the first few seasons anyway, after which we can then reassess.
"But it's not just heavy vehicles that will benefit from this, all road users will. It will help reduce road fatalities.
"Road fatalities are not just about road users and enforcement - the government has a role to play in providing safe roads as well."
The RAA was also looking forward to the implementation of the billion-dollar investment in regional roads, to not only reduce road trauma but also boost the regional economy.
It has been lobbying the government for an urgent increase in rural road maintenance, particularly to the Lincoln and Tod highways on the Eyre Peninsula and the Horrocks Highway in the state's Mid North.
"With the closure of the rail service on the EP, the need to upgrade roads that are going to be subject to increased grain movements is essential and must start as soon as possible," RAA road safety senior manager Charles Mountain said.
"The investment in overtaking lanes and shoulder sealing is welcomed because these measures significantly improve safety, by providing safe overtaking opportunities and reducing the risk of run-off road crashes due to crumbling road edges.
"The Horrocks Highway funding will urgently address the poor road surface and other issues on this critically important corridor."
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In the pre-budget statement released on Sunday, Premier Stephen Marshall said the government would 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 fixing roads, including adding overtaking lanes and sealing 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 roundabouts and $1m to open Bratten Bridge to road trains.
Roads of Strategic Importance projects will also receive state government funding, such as $125m for the Eyre Highway from Port Augusta to the WA border - including $32m to upgrade EP roads; $87.5m to improve Sturt Highway from Renmark to Gawler and $62.5m for the Barrier Highway between Cockburn and Burra.
"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.
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