South Australia's civil construction lobby have welcomed as significant investment in regional roads by the federal government outlined in the 2019 Budget, but say the government has missed investing in the state's most critical regional freight route.
The Civil Contractors Federation said the section of the Augusta Highway between Port Wakefield and Port Augusta was vital for the movement of heavy military traffic to the Cultana Training Area near Whyalla.
CCF Chief Executive Phil Sutherland said the section is also a major road corridor for the movement of tourists and for people living in many parts of regional South Australia needing to get to Adelaide.
"While the broader investment in SA road infrastructure is welcome, it beggars belief that in this day and age, arguably the most important regional road in the State remains a two lane, generally degraded road," he said.
"The duplication of the Augusta Highway, a 200 kilometre road, would generate employment opportunities and create an estimated 100 new jobs including for disadvantaged groups.
"The work would also provide opportunities to train people with new skills or improve their skill sets so that they are employable into the future."
The road has seen more than 60 serious casualties and 18 fatalities in the past three years.
Mr Sutherland believes this trauma pattern will unless the highway is duplicated, with close to several thousand movements including oversize vehicles and road trains, having to use the route each day.
"Full marks to the Federal Government for committing to the upgrade of the State's other key freight corridors - Port Augusta to Perth, Cockburn to Burra and Renmark to Gawler," he said.
"But the Augusta Highway, the road that really needs to be top of the list, perplexingly didn't make the cut in 2019.
"The duplication would cost in the vicinity of $1.2 billion but would deliver a much safer road and an economic return to SA many times that figure."
Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey said the federal government had made a $235 million investment in the Augusta Highway to duplicate the Joy Blauch Bridge and create the dual lanes and overpass at Port Wakefield.
"Effectively these are the first steps toward building dual lanes for the entire length of the Augusta Highway, an outcome that I have been advocating for," he said.
"Until that time, we continue to improve the road by constructing extra passing lanes and currently the bridge at Merriton is being widened.
"I continue to work towards a dual lane highway from Port Wakefield to Port Augusta and I am pleased we have made a start with dual lanes through Port Wakefield."