How long does it take to "cure" a new bitumen road?

26 Aug 2021

In response to regular complaints from locals travelling to and from Adelaide mystified by continuing speed restrictions in place south of Port Wakefield for seemingly no reason, I was compelled to raise this topic in Parliament again this week.

I requested the department lift speed limit signs immediately that are no longer required to be roadside (refer below for Hansard excerpts of my question and the Minister’s answer).

Whilst I accept the principle of the department advising of a need for “road pavement to cure to ensure required traction is in place for vehicles”, I reject that after more than two months the road material is not good enough for vehicles to do 110 km per hour on.

I entirely understand the frustrations of road users, as week after week and month after month we travel at 80 km/hr or less on beautiful new roads.

I encourage frustrated locals to continue to lodge complaints and concerns about signs and any other traffic hazards you see, to the Road Transport Authority 1300 872 677 and to the department’s 24 hr Traffic Management Centre on 1800 018 313.

HANSARD EXCERPTS – 24/8/21

MR ELLIS:

Can the minister please advise the people of Narungga the status of the temporary speed restrictions along the Port Wakefield Road immediately south of Port Wakefield. With your leave and that of the house, I will explain just a little bit further. Leave granted.

Mr ELLIS: Temporary speed restrictions have been in place along the Port Wakefield Road for months and months despite the fact that the road has long finished being resealed. This is causing enormous frustration to many residents of my electorate who travel along a brand-new, perfectly sealed road at significantly less than the normal posted speed limit. Will the minister direct his department to lift those speed limit signs immediately? They have been in place for far too long.

The Hon. C.L. WINGARD (Gibson—Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing) (15:59): I thank the member for his question and note the wonderful work that is happening at Port Wakefield. Actually, I was just there a handful of days ago, when we went up to Port Pirie and Port Augusta with the member for Stuart and had a look at what's happening there. As we went through Port Wakefield, it just looked fantastic to see the new bridge go up, and we did go through the bypass as well that is being built on either side of Port Wakefield, and it's all part of the roadworks that are going on. I do note some of the speed restrictions in and around that area that are in place, and I know that we have actually moved some regulations to make sure that any speed limits on any roadworks on any department or highways commissioner roads have to have the safest speed limit put in place. If those works are not happening or if the speed limit can be put up to a safer speed limit, then that is done if there are no works happening. What we do understand and know with the number of roadworks we have going on right across South Australia, and I have talked already about the $17.9 billion infrastructure spend we have and the $8.8 billion of that that is going into roads and public transport infrastructure, there is a lot of work going on right across South Australia and people will come across these speed limit restrictions.

We want to keep that to a minimum because we want to keep traffic moving across South Australia. What I can tell the member is that there are times when a new surface, for example, may be laid down and that surface may take some time to cure, if you like, or it has to have a certain number of kilometres run over it and it is retested and recalibrated before the speed limit goes back up. Likewise, line markings, audio tactile line markings, are other things that need to be considered as well. If there are entry and exit points of vehicles that are coming on and off that road as well around a site such as this, where such extensive roadworks are happening, sometimes then the speed limits are reduced to make sure it is a safe environment.

I do understand the member's point. In fact, I think we have had a conversation about this a number of times. I know that with the amount of work happening in the electorate of Narungga, on Yorke Peninsula in particular as well as this Port Wakefield project, people in his community would be feeling frustration when they see some speed restrictions.

I know when I go out and speak to people in those communities and say to them, 'We can stop doing the roadworks and we can do some roadworks somewhere else if you don't like the slight speed restrictions,' they are very quick to say, no, they want to see their roads fixed because they know that for 16 years there was a lot of neglect, especially of our regional roads.

When we came into government we had road maintenance backlog of three-quarters of a billion dollars, and that is what we are going about fixing. The Port Wakefield intersection, Crash Corner as it has historically been known, has been a problem in our state for decades, but we have gone on and we are fixing it. The Premier talked about the jobs that are coming with that as well.

I say to the people of Narungga and right across South Australia—and I know a lot of metropolitan people are making their way out into the regions now to enjoy the tourism offerings and spend some time in our wonderful regional areas and enjoying what they have to offer—when you are out there and see these speed signs and they see the speed restrictions and roadworks going on, you must understand that that is building infrastructure that matters to the people of South Australia.

It is making our regional roads safer as well. We know that our regional people are sadly too highly represented in our road crash and fatality statistics, so we are building the roads to make it safer. We are building roads to improve productivity in our regions and we are also generating jobs.

When you drive past these projects and you see people wearing fluoro vests, hard hats and steelcapped boots, they are jobs for people in South Australia. We are creating some 19,000 jobs plus with that $17.9 billion we are investing in infrastructure across South Australia. I think collectively we should be very proud of that. I know that on this side of the house we are very proud of that spend and the jobs it's creating.

Whilst there is some inconvenience, I am more than happy to have a look at any inconvenience that anyone has out there. Please let me know about it and we will look into it a little bit further, or you can contact the traffic information hotline. It's all on the DIT website. Put that in, let us know and we will have a look at it, but we will continue to build what matters for the people of South Australia. Time expired.