By Jeremy Rochow
Last updated on: February 13, 2019 at 2:36 pm
Picture this: it’s 2035 and the South Australian town of Whyalla has seen a population boom thanks to the expansion of local industry and other new projects.
Whyalla’s thriving steelworks, new horticulture plant and recycling centre have resulted in a massive increase in freight, tourism and other vehicles driving along the Augusta Hwy, causing significant problems for motorists.
Due to this increased traffic, the 200km stretch of road between Port Wakefield and Port Augusta – which helps link Adelaide with the Copper Coast – has deteriorated and become more congested than ever before.
This scenario could become reality if Whyalla’s population quadruples over the next 10 to 20 years as expected, and the Federal Government fails to invest in the duplication of the Augusta Hwy.
In fact, the Augusta Hwy is already South Australia’s busiest regional highway, with more than 4000 vehicles – including over 1000 trucks – using the road every day.
The Augusta Hwy is also notoriously dangerous, with 19 motorists being killed and 199 people injured between 2013 and 2017 along the stretch of road.
This is why RAA is urging the federal government to commit to the duplication of the Augusta Hwy between the Copper Coast Hwy and Port Augusta.
RAA General Manager of Government and Public Policy Jayne Flaherty said the proposed projects in Whyalla were fantastic but public infrastructure would need to be upgraded to meet demand.
“Given the Augusta Hwy is going to see more traffic than ever before, an upgrade to this crucial corridor is now urgent,” she said.
RAA wants to see the Augusta Hwy duplicated between the Copper Coast Hwy and Port Augusta to ensure the road is safe for freight vehicles, tourists and other road users.”
The duplication of the Augusta Hwy will not only assist with making the stretch of road safer, but also help prepare the region for autonomous vehicles.
“Future autonomous freight operations are inevitable and will require at least two lanes for traffic in each direction,” Ms Flaherty said.
“The Augusta Hwy is a major strategic freight route of national importance, and could play a vital role in the introduction of autonomous freight innovation.”