Second interchange

Regardless of who wins the State Election next month, Mt Barker is finally going to have a second freeway interchange at Bald Hills Road.
That is welcome news for a rapidly growing community already starting to feel the strain at the Adelaide Road interchange.
What is disappointing is that this long awaited infrastructure announcement has been overshadowed by the threat of losing $8m for this project.
Don’t be under any illusions.
Whether it is the Liberals’ $27m election announcement or Labor’s $35m proposal, both projects are well short of the original budget of $47m estimated for the interchange.
While the Mt Barker Council admits the costings might be over-estimated, both sides of politics think it would be ambitious to build on and off ramps in both directions to Adelaide and Murray Bridge.
The reality is the community will probably end up with the Hahndorf-style interchange that only handles traffic to and from Adelaide.
This is why this week’s stoush over whether the Federal Government has promised more money to Labor than the SA Liberals is important because the community will be in no mood to find out it has missed out on $8m simply to avoid political embarrassment.
It would appear that the Liberals ended up with egg on their faces after making their big announcement about the interchange on Monday. They promised $8m plus the Federal Government election pledge of $16m and $3m from the council.
Then yesterday the State Government announced a $35m project for the Bald Hills Road interchange and upgrades to the Adelaide Road interchange.
That was based on the $16m Federal election pledge, $3m from the council and a successful request to reallocate $16m (shared Federal and State funding) approved last year for a different freeway project to install electronic signage.
Local Federal MP Jamie Briggs, the assistant to the Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss, says a letter from his boss has been misinterpreted and there has only ever been $16m set aside for the interchange.
But that is a difficult pill to swallow when the letter states that “I … agree to the reallocation of $8m Australian Government funding previously committed from the (freeway) project to the Bald Hills Road interchange and to upgrade the Adelaide Road interchange.”
The initial $16m promise was not conditional on using money already allocated for other freeway projects.
The Federal arm of Government should offer the same deal to both sides of politics.