Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Three stars for Upper Yorke Road

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Michelle Daw, Yorke Peninsula Country Times

Tens of millions of dollars will be spent upgrading Upper Yorke Road, following a determined five-year campaign by locals.

State Minister for Regional Roads Geoff Brock said the 35 kilometre section between Kulpara and Arthurton and a 25km stretch between Port Broughton and Bute will be improved to at least a three-star safety rating.

Funding will come from a $168 million investment in South Australia by the national and state governments under the Australian Government’s Road Safety Program, but Minister Brock’s office did not disclose how much of this will be spent on Upper Yorke Road.

It is understood both projects are already out for tender.

Mr Brock acknowledged local residents, Barunga West Council, Member for Narungga Fraser Ellis and Grain Producers SA had all lobbied hard for much-needed safety improvements to the road, which is vital for the grain industry, tourism and the daily needs of residents.

“Having driven the stretch during the government’s Country Cabinet visit to the region last year, I am well aware of the (grain) sector’s advocacy and residents’ feedback about why these works are needed,” Mr Brock said.

“Their input, along with the Member for Narungga’s ongoing support, has helped secure funding to deliver a safer and more productive road.”

Mr Brock said the works will reduce the risk of crashes causing death or serious injuries and support regional economic growth.

“Our freight industry will also benefit from safer, more efficient journeys as the state and federal governments work together to improve key transport corridors throughout regional South Australia.”

Federal Infrastructure and Transport Assistant Minister Carol Brown said the federal and state governments are working to reduce road accidents.

“These works will also help us with improving road safety data and program evaluation and we appreciate SA’s support of this vital work,” she said.

Fix it real good

Member for Narungga Fraser Ellis hailed the announcement as a tremendous boost for YP’s road network.

“Our roads have undergone significant improvement in recent years but lately the pipeline of works had run dry and more was needed,” he said.

“These are crucial roads in need of major improvements — my understanding is that Upper Yorke Road was built in the 1950s and has barely been touched since.

“After years of advocacy, what an exciting day this is for residents, tourists and primary producers who deserve to traverse a safe, productivity- efficient Upper Yorke Road, and I daresay school bus and ambulance users and drivers will also be rejoicing.”

The Arthurton to Kulpara section was voted SA’s Worst Grain Road by grain producers, truck drivers and community members in a Grain Producers SA survey in 2022.

When Country Cabinet visited Yorke Peninsula in February 2023, farmer Chris Moloney took Primary Industries Minister Clare Scriven and a senior Department for Infrastructure and Transport executive for a ride in his grain truck so they could experience the hazards of this section first hand.

GPSA chief executive Brad Perry said the announcement of major funding to fix the road is a huge win for safety and productivity.

“Investment in road upgrades across South Australia’s grain producing regions is vital for ensuring our $4 billion crop can get to port efficiently and safely,” he said.

Barunga West Council mayor Leonie Kerley said the Upper Yorke Road connects Adelaide to the Top of the Yorke and the Mid North.

“This funding from the Australian and SA Governments will improve public safety, and boost tourism and economic growth, marking a commitment to reducing road fatalities and enhancing the quality of life for Barunga West residents and all who depend on this infrastructure,” she said. 

YP roads first in line

Two sections of the Upper Yorke Road — Kulpara to Arthurton and Bute to Port Broughton — will be the first projects tackled under the $168 million Road Safety Program for the state’s regional roads.

Works on both stretches will improve them to at least a three-star safety rating and will include shoulder sealing, shape correction to deliver a smoother surface, audio tactile line markings on the road centre and edge, delineation and removal of hazards and barriers.

Lanes will also be widened on the Kulpara to Arthurton section.

Regional Roads Minister Geoff Brock said works will start in May and are expected to be completed in mid-2025.

He said 135 jobs will be created under the Kulpara to Arthurton project and a further 20 jobs for the Bute to Port Broughton project.

The newly announced funding is in addition to the $600,000 announced in early March to complete targeted patching works on the Bute to Port Broughton section, which are slated for completion in the coming weeks.

Other works under the Road Safety Program will include the Thiele Highway between Kapunda and Eudunda, Main South Road between Sellicks Beach and Second Valley, and three sections of the Lincoln Highway between Whyalla and Tumby Bay.

Sunny Hill Distillery operator Sam Colliver, one of the most prominent campaigners for improvements to the Kulpara to Arthurton section, said he welcomed the funding.

He said he hopes the improved road will make the Sunnyvale area more appealing to tourists, who tend to avoid driving on it a second time, especially if towing a caravan.

Sunnyvale farmer Simon Westbrook said he hoped the long-awaited improvements will save local producers time and wear and tear on their vehicles, and make the road less fatiguing to negotiate, especially during harvest.

“When you’re driving the truck, you just about have to have one tyre in the dirt because it’s (the road) so narrow,” he said.

“I can drive all the way from home to Melbourne and this is the worst section of the entire trip.” 

Yorke Peninsula Country Times 19 March 2024

This article appeared in Yorke Peninsula Country Times, 19 March 2024.

Related story: $600K patch up

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