As South Australia mourns yet another life lost on the fateful Augusta Highway, the State Government has been taken to task by a major industry lobby group asking how many more lives are to be lost before remedial action is taken.
The call has been made by the influential Civil Contractors Federation (SA) and follows the weekend death of a 21-year old woman in a head-on collision between her car and a semi-trailer at Bungama on the Augusta Highway.
“The CCF (SA) is saddened to hear of yet another fatality on this notoriously treacherous stretch of road. This fatality brings the total number of crashes in the past five years on the Augusta Highway to 542, with 39 fatalities (3 so far this year alone), 97 serious injuries, and 284 minor injuries,” the CCF (SA)’s Chief Executive, Mr Phil Sutherland, said today.
“This loss of life at the weekend may well have been prevented if the Augusta Highway was dual laned,” Mr Sutherland said.
“As a result, there is now another family who has needlessly lost a much-loved family member, friends who have lost a good friend, and a community in mourning.
“The CCF (SA) calls on both the SA and Federal Governments to act now, and fast track the duplication of the Augusta Highway.
“Given the very high casualty rate and the importance of the Highway between Port Wakefield and Port Augusta as a strategic freight and road transport corridor, its remediation should be an absolute priority – an appeal made for years to Governments by the Federation.
“How many more people have to die on this terrible stretch of road before our political leaders act?
“It beggars belief that this section of National Highway A1 remains in such a dilapidated state given its crucial link to the national road system
“South Australians deserve much better roads than the Augusta Highway,” Mr Sutherland said.
He questioned why South Australia should be viewed as the poor relation for funding when it came to the State’s roads?
“Look over the border and see the much higher quality of road infrastructure,” Mr Sutherland said.
“Pleasingly, at last the bridge at Port Augusta and the road through Port Wakefield are being upgraded. It would make an enormous amount of sense to duplicate the road between these two points at the same time. This would simply amount to an extension of the duplicated road from Gepps Cross to Port Wakefield.”
The CCF (SA) noted that National Highway A1, a network of highways that circumnavigates Australia joining all mainland state capitals, is recognised because of its total length of 14,500 km as among the longest national highways in the world.
“Yet despite this, the section of highway between Port Wakefield and Port Augusta is a meagre two lane road that has to exist as a major strategic transport and freight corridor connecting Adelaide to the north of South Australia and the rest of Australia.
“The road carries between 8,000 and 10,000 vehicle movements each day comprising a toxic mix of cars, caravans, and heavy transports, including military traffic, oversize combinations and mass vehicles in the B-Doubles, B-Triples and road train categories.
“The highway north of Port Wakefield is comprised of narrow bridges and a railway level crossing. The road surface condition features degraded road shoulders and verges, roughness and rutting of the road surface, and is generally a patchwork of bitumen showing regular repair and maintenance works.
“The time to act is now – before police have to knock at midnight on yet another unsuspecting family at home.”