Freight blueprint outlines roadwork priorities

Blueprint outlines SA freight needs for next 20 years

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Major rural road upgrades are among the priorities of a major freight blueprint releases recently.

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A ROAD repair backlog, estimated to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, is among urgent priorities outlined in a recently-released 20-year infrastructure blueprint by the SA Freight Council.

The state's transport industry lobby group's Moving Freight 2019 strategy highlights key principles and policy issues it hopes government advisory body Infrastructure SA will embrace in its 20-Year State Infrastructure Strategy.

The blueprint outlines eight 'urgent priorities' for the next five years.

These include an accelerated maintenance regime to address the substantial backlog, with the Horrocks Highway and Highway 1 highlighted in particular; Eyre Peninsula road upgrades, particularly since the cessation of grain transport on the EP rail system; completion of the North-South Corridor and the Outer Harbor Shipping Channel to accommodate Post-Panamax vessels; creating an 'overarching' rail level crossing program; and the further development of the Airport East Precinct.

Moving Freight 2019 also sets out project priorities for five to 10 years, 10-20 years and possible 'subject to demand' projects.

It has been great to see our state government increase road maintenance funding, but far more needs to be done and sooner. - EVAN KNAPP

SAFC executive officer Evan Knapp said the council had been collating the priorities since 2017.

"With the state government's introduction of Infrastructure SA, we modified it to become our primary submission into the State Infrastructure Strategy, which is critical to the future of freight productivity in SA," he said.

"A recent Australian Infrastructure Audit highlighted there is a mounting road maintenance backlog across Australia. SA's backlog could be valued as high at $800m.

"That needs a government commitment across a number of budgets.

"It has been great to see our state government increase road maintenance funding, but far more needs to be done and sooner.

"It's unfortunate because some roads have been left for too long, now requiring full reconstruction instead of just maintenance.

"There are sections of the Horrocks Highway that are at that point - fortunately we are now seeing action on this particular road."

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Ben Kemp, from family trucking company DF&E Kemp & Son at Roseworthy, agreed it was pleasing to see significant financial commitment to regional road maintenance.

"There is a lot of rural roads that have been neglected for too long, and while roadworks can be frustrating, it's good to see money being injected back into fixing roads," he said.

The Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of SA committee member said it was also good to see the North-South Corridor and Northern Expressway coming to fruition, and the next stage of the Northern Connector under way.

"With Viterra (Roseworthy) being a strategic site for grain movement, to have non-stop access to the port will be fantastic," he said.

Transport Minister Stephan Knoll said the government was already delivering on many of the blueprint's priorities, including Horrocks Highway and EP road upgrades, completing the North-South Corridor, removing level crossings and fast-tracking regional road programs to enable the reinstatement of speed limits.

"In the most recent state budget, the government announced a record $1.115-billion in regional road infrastructure funding," he said.

"This will make country roads safer and improve freight productivity."

Mr Knapp said the council "eagerly awaited" the release of the 20-Year State Infrastructure Strategy in March.

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