Wednesday, 13 May 2020                                                          HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY                                                               Page 1156 & 1157

The Hon. G.G. BROCK (Frome) (14:48): 

 My question is to the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure.    Can the minister update the house on the traffic speed restrictions that are in place in both directions of the Augusta Highway from Virginia to Port Wakefield?  With your leave, sir, I will further explain. 

 Leave granted.  

The Hon. G.G. BROCK: There are several sections—in actual fact, four to six sections—of the highway that have been resurfaced, line marked and open to traffic for over two months with all traffic line marking and other requirements in place, which I would assume were passed okay to be open to traffic, yet there are several sections of the highway travelling north and south with speed restrictions down to 40 km/h.  

The Hon. S.K. KNOLL (Schubert—Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government, Minister for Planning) (14:49): I thank the member for Frome for this question, potentially a source of frustration for him as he drove down here either Sunday night or Monday morning, and the same frustration that some members on my side of the house may have also expressed. To refresh the house’s memory, this is $11.6 million worth of work that is being done at the moment. You are right: there are four sections northbound and four sections southbound to upgrade I think about 27 or 28 kilometres worth of road on the Port Wakefield highway.

For the member’s benefit—and I have encountered this in my own electorate—the reason those big restrictions are in place in the way that they are is that it looks like the road is finished but the surface itself, with the new bitumen mixtures that they use, needs to settle before we go to higher speeds. Some of it is to do with the slip resistance and wearing of that road. Some of it is to do with loose gravel and things like that that are on the road. I had the same situation on the Sturt Highway, where a package of works was undertaken last year and speed limits were kept low for a period of time.

Essentially, it is to make sure that that wearing course has settled in and that it is safe to undertake at higher speeds. It is something that is a bit more recent with the way they now mix the bitumen together, which is all designed to make it last longer and survive better. For the member’s benefit, as I understand it, it could be this Friday that some of those speed restrictions are removed. It depends on whether the member is going to go home on Thursday night or whether he stays for the weekend. It depends how long it takes. Again, it is the same issue that we had on the Northern Connector, a source of frustration for many people, and the Sturt Highway, as I said.

The great news is that the reason the speeds are restricted in the first place is that this government is now spending a record up to $1½ billion fixing country roads in South Australia. The works package that we are talking about that the member had to drive on is part of a $250 million commitment, 80 per cent from the federal government, to upgrade the Princes Highway. It is the biggest investment in country roads in South Australia in the state’s history. In the Infrastructure South Australia report that was released today, the first thing it said is that we need to do more to look after the assets we have, and that is precisely what this government is doing. It is doing its best to tackle the road maintenance backlog that was left by those opposite, who couldn’t see votes in country South Australia and so ignored it. We are getting on with investing taxpayers’ hard-earned money into these important projects because we know it is going to save lives.

As much as it is frustrating in the short term to see speed restrictions along these roads, in the Wednesday, longer term we are going to have a safer road that is going to keep more people alive and help to encourage more people to call regional South Australia home