Federal Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey said he is pleased to have Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester join him in on the Joy Baluch Bridge today to better understand the safety issue with the narrow walkway brought about by the closure of the Great Western Bridge.
“Not only do I want him to understand the issue and the urgency for a solution,” Mr Ramsey said.
“I want him to help us put pressure on the State Transport Minister to deliver the engineering report on the bridge that both of us asked him for in April.
“It seems the State Government is simply too transfixed with inner-city transport with projects like tram and O-Bahn extensions to concern themselves with a walkway safety issue in Port Augusta.
“Everyday children walk and cycle across this narrow unprotected walkway, as do our seniors on their gophers. Two gophers are unable to pass on the walkway and even though traffic speed has been reduced, it is just a matter of time before a horrific avoidable accident happens. We need urgent action.
“I have spoken to Minister Chester about this problem numerous times and he has indicated he is prepared to consider funding to provide a safe walkway, but we can’t help from the Federal level unless the state is prepared to work with us, after all, it is their bridge.
“This is once again another project on which we are waiting for a State Government action.
It mirrors their lack of action in starting work on the passing lanes between Whyalla and Port Augusta which the Federal Government has largely funded,
“Today the Minister and I have spent a couple of hours on the Strzelecki Track so I can highlight to him the desperate need to seal the road which is a vital freight route connecting Adelaide to the Moomba Gas fields in the state’s far north-east.
“With the sealing of the road from the SA border to Brisbane we are losing the economic benefit of the supply line to one of our greatest natural assets, the Cooper Basin. We simply must find a way to progress the project.
“It is also an increasingly important tourist route through to Queensland. Just imagine driving from Queensland directly into the Coongee Lakes, The Cooper, Lake Eyre and the Flinders Ranges. It would be a tourist dream.
“It is a state road and so the State Government must take lead responsibility. I have met with Premier Weatherill and he expressed interest but has not put any proposals for assistance through to the Federal Government. We need them to act and my motive in taking Minister Chester on the track is to make sure he is across the issue should that call come from the State Government and the rest of us need to pressure them to engage.
“I look forward to continuing to work with Minister Chester and other Cabinet colleagues to ensure regional South Australia sees the full benefit of the Government’s record $75 billion infrastructure investment nationwide.”