Friday May 22, 2020

Published by The Border Watch

By Todd Lewis

A KANGAROO Flat Road timber processing company has backed calls for the notorious rural freight route to be urgently upgraded as part of the South Australian Government’s COVID-19 economic stimulus proposal.

The Royal Automobile Association of South Australia (RAA) has urgedthe government to prioritise roadworks on the southern section of Kangaroo Flat Road - spanning from Princes Highway to Wandilo Forest Road - after identifying substantial signs of failure during a regional road audit last year.

Identifying the road as a key freight route, the RAA assessment uncovered edges breaking up on the road and gravel shoulder erosion, which at points resulted in a 10cm drop off.

TRUCK HAZARD: South East Pine Sales general manager John Forster said the narrow stretch of road needs new shoulders to allow the high number of trucks that use the arterial route to be able to pass each other safely. Picture: TODD LEWIS

The report also stated that while B-doubles were permitted on the route, the road was not wide enough for two trucks to safely pass each other with a total seal width of five metres at its narrowest points.

The RAA assessment also revealed there was an increased risk of casualty crashes along Kangaroo Flat Road due to the hazardous road conditions and the 100kph speed limit.

The Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure has proposed pavement rehabilitation on this section of road in its forward program, but the RAA is calling for immediate action as part of the COVID-19 stimulus roll out.

Speaking at his Kangaroo Flat Road timber site yesterday, South East Pine Sales general manager John Forster agreed it was time something was done about the road’s condition.

“I do not think anyone could deny that it needs new shoulders, it is quite a narrow piece of road for trucks,” he said.

“A lot of log trucks use the road, not just related to our business - I think an upgrade would be timely with safety the paramount consideration.”

While Mr Forster travels the road to and from work each day, he believed the road would be quite daunting for those unfamiliar.

“I know the road quite well and I imagine most of the people that drive it would also know it, but those who do not would find it quite challenging,” he said.

“The condition of this road has come up before in conversations and I think people might try to avoid the area due to its condition and the truck traffic on the road.”

Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell encouraged the government to heed the advice of the RAA and supply funding for the proposed upgrades.

“Like in the past when we have had similar recommendations, I think it would be prudent of the State Government to listen to the independent body who are providing an unbiased opinion,” he said.

“It is very concerning if fully-loaded B-doubles are being forced onto the shoulder of this road that has the potential to be very dangerous,” Mr Bell said.

“It might not seem like much of a drop-off, but it would be for the stability of a truck.”

Labelling it one of the worst roads in the district, Grant District Council works manager Adrian Schutz said upgrades would take the pressure off other council roads

“It is very undulating and old and I believe people definitely try to avoid it,” he said.

“From a safety point of view I think something should definitely be done about it - South East Pine Sales employ a lot of people who would travel on it each day.

“An upgrade would take a lot of traffic off some of the other roads in the district.”

In addition, Kangaroo Flat Road is also home to ForestrySA’s popular Ghost Mushrooms Lane, resulting in an increase in evening traffic flow during winter months.

A ForestrySA spokesperson said Ghost Mushroom Lane attracts more than 20,000 visitors annually since it first opened in 2017.

“There would be a lot of people who live in Glencoe or Kalangadoo or even just play footy there who use it too, so when you look at it as a whole it is a pretty high traffic road,” Mr Forster said.

“It would be great to see them fund an upgrade and get some local contractors to come in and do it, giving a great boost to the local economy in these challenging times.”

South Australian Transport Minister Stephan Knoll’s office was contacted for comment.