Port Wakefield Overpass

09 Sep 2018 speechinfrastructure

Fraser speaks about the exciting future of the Port Wakefield Overpass project.

Mr ELLIS (Narungga) (16:12): I rise today to speak about the wonderful addition to the state budget this year that was the money allocated towards the Port Wakefield overpass. It is going to be a wonderful benefit to people not only within the electorate of Narungga but right around the state who travel upon that road regularly.

I do not think there would be anyone in this state, certainly not in this room, who has not seen the media footage of the long weekend over the last 20 years in which cars are banked up for 10 kilometres or more, bumper to bumper, at a near standstill, north of Port Wakefield, trying to get back home to Adelaide. The need for a solution at this intersection and throughout this town featured in my maiden speech, it featured in my predecessor, Steven Griffiths', maiden speech and it even featured in the maiden speech of his predecessor, John Meier, back in 1982, so this announcement that an overpass and dual lanes through the town are to be built to finally address Port Wakefield's traffic issues is massive news indeed.

I have been very fortunate to be in contact with a number of locals who have thrown their road engineer hats on and offered to me their advice about how best to solve the problem at this intersection. While the majority agrees with the solution, but not all, they are all happy and thrilled to see investment in this area to finally do away with the uncertainty that has plagued this issue for over 20 years.

It is not for small reason that the intersection, where the overpass is to be constructed over Highway 1 at the junction of Copper Coast Highway and the Port Augusta highway, has long been known as Crash Corner. On a normal day, this intersection is used by about 3,000 vehicles and during holiday weekends it soars to as many as 10,000, when it becomes a bottleneck, creating jams for as long as 10 kilometres, as vehicles travelling from Yorke Peninsula (YP) attempt to merge and travel south through Port Wakefield. The intersection has a long history of accidents resulting in fatal or serious injury, the most recent of which was a fatality last year of a young woman travelling back to Adelaide from the YP whose car collided with an oncoming truck.

The state government has committed $18 million to the solution, and the federal government $72 million, for which I am very grateful. I was pleased to be at Port Wakefield on 30 August for the announcement with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack; local Liberal member for Grey, Rowan Ramsey; and our very own state Minister for Infrastructure, Stephan Knoll.

I take this opportunity to acknowledge the valiant efforts of Rowan Ramsey in advocating with previous members and me for the case to find the solution to this important problem and fix what is an important link between Adelaide and tourist and agricultural regions like Yorke Peninsula as well as being the gateway to the north, Darwin and Perth. Securing funding for this key infrastructure project is another example of the Marshall Liberal government's constructive and collaborative relationship with the federal Coalition government.

Even more pleasing is that the project delivered is a significant improvement on what we took to the state election last year. Not only will the overpass be built but also step 2, the vitally important lane duplication through the town will secure congestion reduction, cut travel times, improve route reliability and boost safety for all travelling in and out of the Narungga electorate. Advice I took from the residents was that you could not do one without the other. Post the announcement of the overpass, it was clear to me that the expectation of the community was that both would be done concurrently, and I am pleased to have delivered that reality.

I also believe the investment will secure and increase Yorke Peninsula's tourism visitation and spend, with research showing that increasing numbers of holiday-makers visiting YP have been shortening their stay or, even worse, deciding not to come because of dreading the infamous extra hours stuck in traffic on the way home. The lane duplication will begin where the existing road duplication south of Port Wakefield ends and will continue to the Copper Coast Highway junction, which will have a wonderful new overpass built there.

There will be some compulsory acquisition required, and that detail is still to be done as part of the design works. As minister Knoll stated on announcement day, compared with some of the challenges we have widening roads in towns, this project looks like it will not be as disruptive as some. Such is its importance to the local community, personally, this project was a significant priority of mine when I nominated to represent the seat of Narungga at the last election. I was thrilled to secure funding from the state government early in the election campaign and even more so when the federal government decided to come on board and make this dream a reality.

I am thrilled that this budget includes that money to make this dream a reality and I look forward to seeing its production as we move forward through the forward estimates.