SA’s new dedicated infrastructure team reveals the big projects the state needs to consider

An underground rail link for the city, a dedicated Adelaide concert hall and toll roads will all be investigated by the team set up to develop South Australia’s infrastructure priorities.

Infrastructure South Australia’s 20-Year strategy, to be released Wednesday, also pushes the case for better public transport to Mount Barker and the Adelaide Hills, the “game-changing” 5G telecommunications network and level crossings throughout the city.

The agency is encouraging private/public funding options to help fund major projects including water infrastructure to the Barossa Valley and the Far North to help copper exploration.

It also argues the same funding model should be used to fund other major infrastructure including new corrections and forensic mental health facilities in the state.

The report has stressed maintaining current infrastructure should be a priority pointing out $780 million backlog that could increase to $1.2 billion by 2024.

The 198-page report outlines a raft of broad priorities to adopt across education, health, justice, digital, tourism, sport, culture, utilities, transport and housing.

But a number projects set out in the plan have been on the table for a number of years under successive governments, which will spark calls for more to be done.

Infrastructure SA Chief Executive Jeremy Conway told The Advertiser the strategy has been developed in consultation with government agencies, business, industry and community organisations.

One of the boldest plans in the report is an underground rail link connecting the northern Gawler line with the southern Noarlunga line under the Adelaide’s city streets.

The link, floated as far back as 2011 by, could travel under Parliament House in North Terrace, to Pulteney Street, then west to the parklands to join the Noarlunga line near Keswick - with stations at Rundle Mall and Victoria Square.

10 major projects for South Australia

  1. Completion of the North-South Rd Corridor through metropolitan Adelaide
  2. A grain/minerals port on Eyre Peninsula
  3. The GlobeLink upgrade of major export infrastructure (now ruled out with other freight options being investigated)
  4. An extension of tram services in the CBD
  5. An underground rail link in the CBD
  6. Completion of the Gawler rail electrification
  7. An extension of the O’Bahn between Tea Tree Plaza Interchange (current terminus) and Golden Grove
  8. Grade separations at major metropolitan area intersections
  9. Infrastructure development on LeFevre Peninsula
  10. Sealing the Strzelecki Track

Investment priorities in the next five years

  • Greater investment in maintenance of existing assets
  • Building the case for private sector investment in water infrastructure for the Barossa Valley and copper and other minerals in SA’s Far North
  • Small tailored improvements for key freight routes in and out
    of Adelaide
  • Finalise an updated business case for the Strzelecki Track
  • Improve patronage and efficiency of public transport – with a focus on the growing regions of Mount Barker and the Adelaide Hills, and in the northwest of Adelaide with its naval shipbuilding and forecast urban infill in the area
  • Level-crossing removals to improve efficiency of the public transport network
  • A new public/private prison and forensic mental-health facility
  • Complete business case studies into recommendations from the Arts and Culture Plan – including a dedicated concert hall – and the forthcoming Sport and Active Recreation Infrastructure Plan

Mr Conway said the rail loop would be a long-term proposition.

“The benefit of investment in public transport is as much around efficient transport as it is around capitalising on urban uplift in these areas,” Mr Conway said.

“As Adelaide grows these are the sorts of things that we are going to have to contemplate for Adelaide to be a productive global city that operates efficiently.

The report found growing numbers of people were wanting to live in or close to the city.

“For Adelaide to function efficiently and productively as a city it needs a greater share of public transport coming into the city to try and lessen the amount of car traffic.

“We need to find ways that can make public transport more efficient and attractive as an option for people.

“I think both the cultural and economic heart of the city is moving to that North Terrace/riverbank area.

“So it’s really important for us that any future investment within that precinct is co-ordinated so that we get the best outcomes

“Part of that is public transport and how people can get in an out on event days and things like that.”

The report also shows Mount Barker and the Adelaide Hills would continue to cause problems for traffic congestion into the city without better public transport.

“There is going to be growing congestion on the bottom of the South East Freeway,” he said.

“Ideally we would like to see some more public transport and less cars driving down the hill.

Mr Conway said a rail line to Mount Barker, which has gathered some enthusiasm in recent years, was not a great option but a better bus network could serve the community better.

Infrastructure South Australia wants the State Government to move on promises for major arts infrastructure including to fund a business case to assess the viability of an acoustic venue (concert hall) to serve the local music industry and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and Adelaide Youth Orchestras.

It has also recommended reviews into the creation of a black box theatre, regional arts centres and a performing arts high school/college in Adelaide.

Mr Conway said it was also important to create more sporting hubs that allow for shared uses, or better shared use of school and community facilities.

And despite being a dirty term in South Australia Mr Conway said ‘road tolls’ could be considered.

“The government has been pretty clear that they don’t want to do toll roads but our work with the freight industry has suggested they would be willing to have some sort of user charge model.”

Infrastructure Minister Stephan Knoll said the report provides the government with a blueprint to help make smarter decisions about spending taxpayers

“It identifies immediate opportunities to extend water infrastructure to the Barossa and upgrade the Strzelecki track to boost economic productivity and output, both of which the State Government is currently investigating,” Mr Knoll said.

Infrastructure SA Chair Tony Shepherd said the context in South Australia is different to the eastern states where infrastructure planning has had to respond to high rates of population growth.

“Within SA, infrastructure has an important role to catalyse growth in a way that can sustain and enhance liveability,” said Mr Shepherd.

South Australia’s new dedicated infrastructure team reveals the big projects the state needs to consider by Matt Smith originally seen on The Advertiser 12 May 2020. 

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