LABOR MLC Tung Ngo has called on Port Augusta residents to rally behind the proposed duplication of the Joy Baluch AM Bridge.
State government named the $210 million bridge duplication project, as well as road upgrades from Adelaide to Port Augusta, on its infrastructure wishlist in the lead-up to next year’s Federal Budget.
Mr Ngo said it up was to the people of Port Augusta to put together a campaign that would be hard for federal government to ignore.
“I’m hoping the local people lobby federal government through Rowan Ramsey to back the project because state government has listed the bridge as a priority that needs to be fixed,” he said.
“It’s up to the people to campaign the same way they did for solar thermal.”
Mr Ngo said it’s the “squeaky wheel that gets the oil,” commending the community for their hard work in securing the world’s largest solar thermal plant in Port Augusta.
With Infrastructure Australia announcing its Infrastructure Priority List in February 2018, Mr Ngo urged residents to “get together and fight for the project” over the next few months.
“Not only the people of Port Augusta are depending on fixing this problem, the whole country needs the bridge issue fixed,” he said.
State Member for Stuart Dan van Holst Pellekaan said that while ‘people power’ is always important, state government must first put forward a funded application to Infrastructure Australia.
“I’ve been writing letters to state government about duplicating the Joy Baluch Bridge for eight years, so they’ve already got the message,” Mr van Holst Pellekaan said.
“What we need is for state government to take action and putting it on their wishlist is not good enough.
“What they must do is put a funded application forward to Infrastructure Australia which outlines what percentage of the cost state government will offer, then I would be very optimistic that we would get the balance from the federal government.”
Mr van Holst Pellekaan said short-term solutions, including fixing the Great Western Bridge and upgrading Yorkeys Crossing, must be completed immediately.
“We need a solution for pedestrians. While the bridge duplication is where we need to end up, we can’t wait for that before we do something,” he said.
Mr van Holst Pellekaan said the bridge on the Augusta Highway between the old Hungry Jacks building and Clift Freight Service must also be duplicated in order to prevent a ‘bottleneck’ of traffic.
Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester visited Port Augusta in October to inspect the pedestrian safety issue on the Joy Baluch AM Bridge.