Adelaide needs a north-south traffic corridor

Opinion Piece


12 May 2014

Adelaide Advertiser

A fully upgraded north-south road corridor has been somewhat of a mirage for South Australians.

We have talked about this project since it was first recommended in 1968. Yet today, some 45 years later, much of South Rd more closely resembles a parking lot than a free-flowing north-south road corridor. This lack of progress has left Adelaide with a rising congestion problem, putting a lid on our productive capacity.

This congestion gridlock was highlighted in a RAA Travel Time report, released in July last year, which found that travel from O’Halloran Hill to Anzac Highway and on to West Terrace takes almost 9 minutes longer than in 2012. Travel speeds along this stretch are now at 21km/h in the morning and 27km/h in the afternoon, less than half the legal speed limit.

For too long South Australia has lacked the leadership to deliver this major infrastructure upgrade. Adelaide commuters are sick and tired of governments flip-flopping on whether it’s the Darlington Interchange or Torrens-to-Torrens project that’s more important, which usually depends on the political breeze of the moment. The reality is congestion is choking all of South Road.

Our election commitment recognises the importance of the Darlington project, but we also know that the Torrens-to-Torrens upgrade is a significant part of this vital road corridor.

That is why, not only are we delivering on our commitment to get the Darlington project moving again, we are also determined to see a fully upgraded north-south road corridor built within a decade.

This is the first time a government has set a timeline to complete this vital road project. State Liberal Leader, Steven Marshall was instrumental in securing this commitment—first raising the idea with the Prime Minister in October last year.

This is an ambitious commitment that will require a strong focus from both the federal and state government. But it is a goal we must meet if we are to improve our economic performance and ensure future generations enjoy the living standards and prosperity that we have come to expect.

We are serious about building the north-south road corridor as quickly as possible, which is why in this week’s federal budget we will deliver $944 million towards this vital project—an additional $450 million on top of our original election commitment.

This is the single largest infrastructure investment in South Australia by any Australian Government.

This funding will allow for the completion of the two highest priority sections on the Corridor—the South Road upgrade at Darlington and the Torrens Road-to-River Torrens section.

The Australian Government is providing $496 million—80 per cent of the total cost —for the Darlington project and $448 million, 50 per cent of the cost, for the Torrens-to-Torrens section. This funding is part of our broader $2 billion infrastructure investment across South Australia to be outlined in the federal budget.

Once the development phase is complete, early works on both the Darlington and Torrens to Torrens projects can commence later this year, with expected completion in 2018.

The Federal Government is committing more money to upgrade South Rd.

This is a win for all South Australians.

The long-awaited upgrades will improve access for commuters and heavy vehicles to the rapidly expanding industrial and residential growth areas in the north and the south. It will improve access to the Port, the airport and freight terminals, including the Islington intermodal, and it will also improve the efficiency of the public transport system, all of which accelerates new opportunities for economic development, encourages job creation and slashes travel times for commuters.

Since coming to government just seven short months ago, the Australian Government has instigated the biggest road and rail construction program in our nation’s history. Before the decade is out, we will have invested over $45 billion in major infrastructure projects across the country as part of our broader Economic Action Strategy.

These investments, along with other key reforms in the federal budget to get our economy moving again, will ensure South Australia fulfils its economic potential and becomes one of the premier states to live and do business.