THE South Australian Freight Council, the advocacy group for the transport industry, has welcomed the SA government’s commitment to addressing the state’s road maintenance backlog in the recent budget.
SAFC executive officer Evan Knapp said, “A clear number one of the Freight Council’s budget requirements was road maintenance funding; with an amount that would not only halt the serious decline in SA road conditions, but begin to make a significant dent in our $800m plus road maintenance backlog.
“There should now be a real impact on road maintenance from a combination of funds from both the state and Commonwealth. A total of $283m of road maintenance related funding is expected in 2021/22.”
While it’s unclear from budget notes how much of the government’s $17.9bn infrastructure program will be allocated to road maintenance, at least $3.4bn will be spent on the completion of the north-south corridor. An additional $786m will be spent, over four years, on regional roads.
“Road maintenance might not traditionally win votes,” said Mr Knapp, “but it most definitely saves lives and prevents roads declining to the point where they must be completely reconstructed at massive cost.
“Safe roads are one of the four pillars of the ‘Safe System’ that underpins the National Road Safety Strategy – and the only element that governments have complete control over,” said Mr Knapp.
While welcoming the significant maintenance boost in 2021/22, Mr Knapp said road maintenance momentum must be maintained in future years if a significant improvement is to be locked in.
“Realistically government cannot afford to take a step back until the full $800m plus road maintenance backlog is eliminated.”
SAFC also welcomed matching funding for the key projects announced in the Commonwealth Budget – including the Augusta Highway Duplication Stage 2 to Lochiel; the Truro Bypass on the Sturt Highway and the full sealing of the Strzelecki Track.
Mr Knapp said the SAFC looked forward to further announcements in coming months as the government sets out its transport infrastructure platform before the next election in March 2022.