Independent review of North-South Corridor needed to examine $1 billion in potential savings: SA-BEST

15 March 2022

An independent review of an ambitious proposal to slash $1 billion off the next stage of the $10 billion North-South Corridor project is a major platform of SA-BEST’s transport and infrastructure policy unveiled today. 

SA-BEST MLC and Transport and Infrastructure spokesperson, Frank Pangallo, said if the proposed cost-savings materialised, the party would direct the $1 billion in savings to fixing the state’s ailing public health system. 

“It’s a no-brainer for us – and should be to the government too. There is an appealing, achievable option that has been developed which has the potential to save South Australian taxpayers up to $1 billion – vital funds that can be immediately directed into our public health system,” Frank said. 

“The politics need to be removed from such a crucial state infrastructure project,” he said. 

“If the identical economic benefits to the state can be achieved at a significant reduced overall cost to taxpayers, it should get the green light. 

“It defies logic the government has flatly and steadfastly refused to even consider the proposal – presumably on the grounds it wasn’t their idea.” 

The alternative option for the final 10.5km stretch of South Rd upgrades from the River Torrens to Darlington is being spearheaded by former senior Transport Department bureaucrat Luigi Rossi, who has delivered on some of the state’s biggest infrastructure projects including the Heysen Tunnels, the Northern Expressway and the South Rd Superway at Regency Park. 

His proposal includes a 6km tunnel from the River Torrens to just before the South Rd Overpass at Cross Rd, connecting to a 4km elevated “Highway in the Sky” motorway extending to just before Ayliffes Rd. 

Mr Rossi said his own independent review had revealed cost savings of more than $1 billion off the current $9.9bn price tag, a 12-month fast-forwarding of the completion date and save properties planned for demolition. 

SA-BEST Upper House candidate and former Master Builders Association CEO, Ian Markos, said: “The incoming State Government – whichever party that is – would be foolish not to give serious consideration to Option B. 

“The potential costs savings are significant and desperately needed across our public health system,” he said 

“If SA-BEST wins the balance of power at the election it will request the party which forms government to undertake an immediate independent evaluation of both projects to determine which represents the best value for money for the state’s taxpayers.” 

SA-BEST today unveiled a suite of initiatives as part of its transport and infrastructure policy, which it would implement if it wins the power of power in the Upper House. This includes: 

  • supporting a proposal by a leading European train manufacturer to undertake a $2.5m trial to prove a passenger rail service between Mount Barker and Adelaide is viable.
  • backing calls for expanding the rail corridor to Mt Barker linking up with the Belair-Blackwood line to ease the congestion on the freeway as well as provide an alternative and comfortable journey to the city for commuters;
  • seeking to establish a parliamentary Select Committee to look at the feasibility of the Mt Barker rail project;
  • revisit the decision to knock back the deep-water port at Smith Bay on Kangaroo Island; 
  • advocating for the refurbishment of the grain train rail line on Eyre Peninsula abandoned by multi-national grain handling company, Viterra;
  • supporting a proposal by Chateau Tanunda owner, John Geber, to reopen the rail line to the world-famous Barossa Valley for a tourist wine train;
  • seek an independent review to extend the Barossa line all the way to Nuriootpa - not only to provide tourist train services but also to provide passenger rail services during morning and afternoon peak periods, with a transfer at Gawler Railway station.
  • ensuring appropriate funding by the SA Government to retain and expand the Overland train service between Melbourne and Adelaide;
  • improve public transport services within the regions, but also connecting to major cities;
  • explore the feasibility of resuming a country rail passenger link between Whyalla, Port Augusta and Adelaide;
  • increase the frequency of bus services from the Spencer Gulf region to Adelaide, including weekends, and;
  • supporting the RAA’s demand for the establishment of a $600 million fund to specifically address outstanding roadworks in the network and advocate strongly for it in the new Parliament. 

Ian said: “Every vibrant, robust, economically-strong city in the world is built around efficient and contemporary transport and infrastructure. 

“They are the main arteries to a healthy economy and society,” he said. 

“Countries around the world – and other Australian states – are embracing reliable and cost-effective rail systems linking capital cities to the regions, yet we’re not in SA. 

“If we are genuine in making our regions attractive locations for families to relocate to, we must have an efficient, reliable and affordable state-wide public transport system. 

“SA-BEST transport and infrastructure policy will hold the state in good stead for the challenges and growth ahead.”

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