Lack of funding

The lack of funding commitment from the State Government towards the new freeway interchange is disappointing yet strangely not surprising.

The Mt Barker Council has fought long and hard to secure the best outcome for the community since the Government first rezoned land in 2010, making way for 26,000 new people to move into town.

Most recently it finalised separate rates to be paid by developers – $50,000 per hectare for transport infrastructure – ensuring developers will pay their part.

The council itself has also spent many hours and many thousands of dollars of its own money developing policies and master plans to deal with projected growth.

Last month the Federal Opposition committed $16m towards the second freeway interchange at Bald Hills Road.

It is $6m less than what was promised at the 2010 election, and a larger commitment towards the $47m project would always be welcomed – especially considering that the freeway is a Federal road.

But the State Government is the only level of government that hasn’t stepped up to the plate, and it’s the one that dumped the problem here in the first place.

The disappointing response from State Transport Minister Tom Koutsantonis shows both the poor financial condition of his Government and the lack of political influence this area exerts.

It doesn’t take much to imagine what the situation would look like if Mt Barker was located in a marginal seat and there was an election looming.

The project would have been given a lot more consideration by both levels of government.

Mr Koutsantonis has flagged the existing interchange on Adelaide Road would be upgraded before a new one is built.

In the past the transport department has been unable to define exactly what an upgrade would entail, although the council has said it could include upgrading traffic signals and duplicating ramps from one to two lanes.

As it stands now the current interchange does cope with traffic flow on a day-to-day basis.

However, only a few months ago an accident caused a bank up of cars one kilometre down the freeway.

It’s hard to imagine how these minor improvements could make any real difference in that kind of dangerous situation.

The response the council has received from Mr Koutsantonis is little more than a fob off, and it’s a bitter pill to swallow for the community considering the need for this new interchange is a direct result of the unwanted level of rezoning laid down by his Government.