Transport needs

A local MP believes “hundreds of millions of dollars” needs to be invested in a Globelink-style truck bypass around the Hills.

Infrastructure SA’s recommendation against rail as a viable transport option for the Hills will come as unwelcome news to many across the region who are continuing to grapple with increasing congestion on our roads while Mt Barker’s population grows.
The independent advisory body, which made recommendations to the State Government, has written off rail as being too expensive and unable to meet consumer needs.
If this is the case, it is vital that an effective alternative solution is found.
Both the State Government and Infrastructure SA have backed buses as a more suitable solution.
But buses must take the freeway and it seems unlikely that more people will be incentivised to rely on that service if the freeway itself isn’t equipped to handle accidents and roadworks without major delays.
Reviewing bus routes and updating fleets likely isn’t enough to make buses an attractive enough option to get much of the commuter traffic off of the freeway.
What the region really needs is a major and meaningful investment that will make commuting via public transport an attractive option compared with driving.
The Infrastructure SA report recommends that an appropriate long-term corridor be identified to allow more efficient access between Adelaide and the Hills, including for freight.
Let’s hope that planning begins now for such a solution and doesn’t fall prey to the politics of short election cycles.
The reality is that any meaningful solution – whether rail or road – will come at a significant cost.
But it’s a cost that can’t be escaped if the Hills region is to be properly catered for.
Traffic congestion on the freeway is getting worse.
Mt Barker and Strathalbyn’s populations have grown 30% and 20% respectively in the past decade: triple and double the average of Adelaide metropolitan growth.
More than $5 billion is being spent on a new road between the northern and southern suburbs and we need similar investment in the Hills before – not after – Mt Barker becomes SA’s second biggest city.