Long-term report provides big win for rural roads

Long-term report provides big win for rural roads

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RIGHT PRIORITIESl Primary Producers SA chair Rob Kerin welcomed ISA's long-term infrastrucutre strategy, and was pleased by its road maintenance recommendations.

RIGHT PRIORITIESl Primary Producers SA chair Rob Kerin welcomed ISA's long-term infrastrucutre strategy, and was pleased by its road maintenance recommendations.

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SA's regional roads have been given a high priority on Infrastructure SA's long-term infrastructure strategy.

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SA's regional roads have been given a high priority on Infrastructure SA's long-term infrastructure strategy.

Published last week, the report recommends key principles and approaches to underlie infrastructure works in the next 20 years.

Planning, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Stephan Knoll said the report shed light on the growing backlog of road maintenance in the state - a figure that has risen from less than $200 million in 2000, to more than $780m presently, and is expected to increase to $1.2 billion by 2024 in the absence of swift action.

"(To address the backlog), we are investing record amounts to fix our roads, including over $1.1b to fix over 1000 kilometres of country roads over the next four years," Mr Knoll said.

Mr Knoll said the strategy did not change the state government's stance on toll roads, and confirmed they would not be introduced.

Primary Producers SA chair Rob Kerin welcomed the strategy, and was pleased by its road maintenance recommendations.

"The report found the amount spent on sealed road maintenance is eight times lower in SA compared to NSW, and there is acknowledgement from government about that, and a willingness to change," he said.

It's often the country roads that are in terrible condition, but sometimes get ignored for road projects in metropolitan areas, so it will be fantastic to see work done there. - EVAN KNAPP

Mr Kerin said a focus on road maintenance would provide benefits for both businesses and travellers.

"On a road that has bad shoulders, big trucks are kept off, and the road is also dangerous for travellers. So if those roads are fixed, there is a joint benefit for the public from a safety point of view, and also any businesses that use that road, from a productivity point of view."

Mr Kerin said the emphasis on maintenance, particularly across the entire life of an asset, was "a step in the right direction", and led to benefits for many types of infrastructure in rural areas.

"That will help us with country schools and hospitals, particularly the new ones, making sure they're kept as effective and efficient as they can be," he said.

SA Freight Council executive officer Evan Knapp was also pleased with the long-term nature of the strategy, saying it would act as a "circuit breaker" to remove short-term political mindsets from infrastructure with longer lifespans.

He said rural areas would "benefit massively" from the focus on road maintenance.

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"It's often the country roads that are in terrible condition, but sometimes get ignored for road projects in metropolitan areas, so it will be fantastic to see work done there," he said.

Mr Knapp said it was important that principles outlined in the strategy were upheld for projects listed in the Capital Intentions Statement - an ISA report also released last week that outlined priority infrastructure projects for the next five years.

In addition to the need to address country roads, priority initiatives identified in the CIS included opportunities to develop bulk commodity port capacity in the Spencer Gulf region, and to extend water infrastructure to the Barossa Valley.

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