INDEPENDENT MP Troy Bell has welcomed a pre-budget announcement of $50m to the Princes Highway, saying the state of country roads is a contributing factor to this year’s alarming road toll.
The Marshall Government will invest the funds over four year to deliver a range of road upgrades and improve safety, reliability and support local industry along the route.
Next week’s state budget will include a record spend for regional road projects and infrastructure upgrades across the state, with $878m annexed for country roads and infrastructure aimed at saving lives and building regional communities.
While the Princes Highway upgrade locations are yet to be determined, a government spokesperson said it will be worked through in coming months.
Road widening, safety upgrades, new overtaking lanes, duplication along key sections and town bypasses will be funded as part of the project.
The funding follows a devastating start to the year in road deaths, including a horror weekend which saw four people, including two South East men, killed within 72 hours.
Mr Bell said he was glad to see the investment in country roads given “years of neglect” from successive governments.
“We have people dying on our roads and I am glad the State Government is taking it seriously,” he said.
“They seem to spend a lot of money in the city saving people two to three minutes getting to work, but the state of our roads is a contributing factor of road deaths.
“Regional roads have been neglected for years and it is good to see the State Government are making a serious effort in rectifying that.”
Premier Steven Marshall said improving the condition of country roads is one element of a broader response to slashing this year’s “unacceptably high” road toll.
“This senseless loss of life on our roads simply has to stop,” he said.
“This is the single biggest investment in regional roads in South Australia’s history and a true reflection of the value we place on our regions and saving lives on our roads.
“Regional South Australia is the backbone of our economy and our exports and I am confident this record investment will unlock further economic potential across a range of industries, from agriculture to mining.”
Transport Minister Stephan Knoll said it was “no secret” after 16 years of Labor, the state’s regional road network was suffering “massive under-investment”.
“We know the majority of road deaths every year occur in our regions and while there are many factors to a road accident, the condition of the road can play a significant part,” he said.
“That is why we are investing record levels of new funding to make country roads safer.
“This massive investment will underpin regional road upgrades for years.”
The State Liberals’ funding follows an earlier commitment from its Federal counterparts on the same stretch of road, with South Australia expected to receive $200m as part of a broader $1b investment along the Princes Highway corridor through three states.
MacKillop MP Nick McBride flagged the Hatherleigh to Clay Wells stretch of road as being of particular concern to constituents.
RAA road safety senior manager Charles Mountain said funds should be spent on the section which runs though the Coorong and south of Kingston, which urgently requires road widening and shoulder sealing.