The state government needs to get its act together and supply the federal government with reports on the Joy Baluch AM Bridge in order to fix the problematic situation gripping Port Augusta, according to federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey.
Despite stating he supports a duplication of the bridge, Mr Ramsey said a greater focus needs to be put to building a wider walkway to the side of the bridge that would fence off pedestrians from vehicles.
“Once you start talking about bridge duplications you start talking about all sorts of things like compulsory land acquisition …. it would be an enormous upheaval and I think it should also include the conversation about the dual carriageway from Port Wakefield to Port Augusta,” he said.
“I think that’s a much longer term issue and I’m certainly on board for the discussion but in the short term we’ve got a 40km/h speed limit on the bridge that’s causing issues there.”
The bridge speed was reduced to 25 kilometres per hour on March 24 when the Great Western Bridge was closed indefinitely on March 22 due to safety concerns.
The speed was then lifted to 40 km/h on April 5.
His comments come after he was criticised by state Labor MLC Tung Ngo who said that after a recent visit to Port Augusta, he was told of local residents frustrations at the federal government’s ‘abject failure’ to take charge in fixing the bridge.
“I was particularly saddened that the bridge, which runs through the national Highway One in Port Augusta, missed out on funding despite numerous representations made to the federal government in recent months,” he said.
“Despite his (Mr Ramsey’s) assurances that the federal minister is aware of the situation, South Australia deserves better than another one of the Turnbull government’s piecrust promises – easily made and too easily broken.”
Mr Ngo said duplicating the bridge would improve the bridge’s productivity.
That idea involves duplicating the existing bridge to two lanes in each direction, and includes the widening of approach roads to allow for the provision of two lanes in both directions between Mackay Street and Mildred Street.
It would also require the further upgrade of the Augusta Highway and the Caroona Road/Burgoyne Street intersection.
The new plan would cost around $195 million, with the state and federal government funding around $39 million and $156 million respectively.
Mr Ramsey said Mr Ngo needs to work with his own state government before blaming the federal government.
“He should get much better informed with the process, the federal Minister (for Infrastructure, Darren Chester) wrote to the state Minister (for Infrastructure, Stpehen Mullighan) in March looking for engineering solutions for the Joy Baluch Bridge at my insistence,” he said.
“I’ve also written to the (state) Minister, I know we’ve received information that he has that information and they’re compiling reports.
“And here we are, two months down the track, and we don’t have those reports.”