On the eve of the 2018-19 South Australian budget, state and federal governments announced an agreement to have the Joy Baluch AM Bridge duplicated by 2021.
The federal government has promised to push forward $395 million of funding for key infrastructure projects in South Australia.
Premier Steven Marshall said his government has moved quickly to build a strong working relationship with the Coalition.
“We’re now seeing that constructive working relationship pay significant dividends for South Australia,” he said.
“We’ve been able to accelerate the delivery of this funding to deliver these projects more rapidly.”
Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government Stephan Knoll said the $200m project would “ease traffic congestion, cut travel times and make our roads safer”.
When the federal budget was released in May, the Australian government announced a $160m commitment to duplicating the bridge.
However, a federal infrastructure breakdown found that only $60m had been put towards the project by 2022.
But both governments have now agreed to bring funding forward to accelerate the duplication.
Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey was very pleased the timeline had been brought forward.
“I have personally brought Ministers Chester, Frydenberg, Tehan and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure Michael McCormack to see the bridge first hand and illustrate the urgency of its duplication and pedestrian safety,” he said.
“I am exceptionally pleased the state government has confirmed their commitment of 20 per cent funding and worked with Minister McCormack to accelerate the build.”
In addition to the bridge duplication, the Coalition’s $395m funding is set to support the $220m Gawler line electrification and the $177m Regency Road to Pym Street project.
Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson said he was very excited by government’s commitment.
“It’s an ambitious target set by the government, but I’m pleased they’ve set it upon themselves to have it done by 2021,” Mayor Johnson said. “I commend those that have come on board to actually make the project a reality, particularly the people of Port Augusta.
“The community has championed this cause for many, many, many years … it’s a credit to a resilient community that knows what it wants and how to go and get it.”
However, a change of leadership at the upcoming federal election could potentially halt the advancements of the duplication project.
While there are some concerns that a new government could reverse the commitment, Mayor Johnson remains hopeful that all parties will support the project.
“We just want absolute assurance that regardless of who is going to lead the country, our bridge is going to happen,” he said.