Bridge upgrade should be a priority
Urgent upgrades are needed to a more than 70-year-old bridge in the State’s Mid North which cannot bear the burden of modern agricultural freight.
Member for Frome Geoff Brock MP is calling for the State Government to allocate funding towards the upgrade of the Pine Creek Bridge on the Laura to Appila Road which was built in the 1940s.
“The bridge, owned by the Northern Areas Council, has a 30-tonne load limit which means that agricultural, livestock, and any general freight to Adelaide has to take a detour along an unsealed road, which adds a further 5km to their journey,” Mr Brock said.
“This impacts on transport efficiency and degrades the partially sealed road, causing ongoing costly maintenance for the local council.
“There is also the matter of driver safety along inadequate road infrastructure,” Mr Brock said.
Vehicles travel through several Mid North Council districts to deliver their cargo, impacting farming businesses in the Orroroo/Carrieton, Peterborough and Mt Remarkable Council Districts as well as the Northern Areas Council.
Mr Brock said the estimated cost to upgrade the bridge was about $9 million – a figure which rises every year the work is not done.
“I also believe that there have been engineering reports confirming the cost of the upgrade.”
Mr Brock said all councils in the area wanted to see this bridge improved to accommodate modern commodity transport.
“And I know there have been pleas to the State Government, over at least the past four years, through Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan, to approve funding.”
Mr Brock said he believed there could be a solution to finding the money for the work by applying to the Australian Government for funding through their bridges program, which is capped at $5 million, plus contributions from the State Government.
“I am asking the two major parties to provide $4 million from the State. Regional local government could also contribute to the project,” Mr Brock said.
Northern Areas Council Mayor Ben Browne said he supported any attempts to upgrade the Pine Creek Bridge.
“It is a significant freight route and one of two identified in the Northern Areas Council district, by the Regional Transport Plan, as being critical for rural cargo transportation,” Mr Browne said.
“Without the support of the State and Federal Government, Council does not have the capacity to fund the necessary bridge upgrades.”
Mr Brock reiterated that Pine Creek Bridge was an important freight route for the Mid North farming sector.
“Its upgrade should be of equally high priority as recreational sporting complex funding,” Mr Brock said.