Interchange at last

Monday’s opening of the Bald Hills Road freeway interchange marks an important milestone in the steps towards relieving some of Mt Barker’s growing pains.
The $27m project’s construction unfolded in a little over a year, but the idea has been  mooted for more than two decades.
Since then the Mt Barker district’s population has boomed to 33,000 people – a number which will continue to grow.
The new interchange came together through the collaboration of three major players – the Federal and State governments and the Mt Barker Council.
Each should be acknowledged for their efforts in securing this vital piece of infrastructure although it must be noted that the State Government was much slower than their Federal counterparts to recognise the worth of the project and contribute to its construction.
Thankfully the development is a fully-fledged interchange and not a half-interchange, such as the one at Hahndorf, as was planned in early discussions.
The new travel route will be welcomed by thousands of Hills residents – particularly those who live in Mt Barker, Littlehampton and Nairne – as it is claimed it could cut about 10 minutes off their daily commute to Adelaide.
It is also expected to improve traffic congestion in Mt Barker as motorists will no longer be exposed to the traffic gridlock which regularly plagued the town’s existing freeway interchange.
Nairne residents will no longer have to drive through Totness and Littlehampton which will also help reduce the regular traffic snarls in these areas.
The roundabout at the junction of Old Princes Highway and Bald Hills Road – a notorious blackspot for vehicle accidents – will improve safety by allowing for easy access to Bald Hills Road.
The new interchange will also be an advantage for those travelling east as  Monarto is tipped to become a significant employment hub in coming years.
The addition of major road infrastructure has been ticked off the list, but Mt Barker still has many population hurdles to clear.
Mt Barker and the wider Hills region are still crying out for better sports facilities, public transport and health care.
But the new interchange is the first step towards successfully catering for a town set to become the second largest city in SA behind Adelaide.