The Royal Automobile Association of South Australia (RAA) says that new plans for steel manufacturing in Whyalla will require a significant review of the city’s transport infrastructure.
Following the proposal from GFG Alliance to build one of the world’s biggest steelworks in Whyalla and quadruple the city’s population, the RAA says consideration needs to be given to identify and implement necessary public infrastructure upgrades to support the planned expansion.
“The proposed growth plans for Whyalla are fantastic, but bringing in thousands more people is going to put enormous pressure on the city’s public infrastructure,” said Jayne Flaherty, RAA’s General Manager, Government & Public Policy.
“The roads and transport system must be assessed and plans put in place to ensure it can handle the projected population boom of the city, which has been forecast to spike from 22,000 people to 80,000.”
While current road infrastructure is generally suitable for Whyalla’s existing population, the planned increase will require more roads for commuter traffic – particularly as the town’s footprint expands – while busy intersections will need safety upgrades such as traffic lights.
Provisions will also need to be made for growth in Whyalla’s public transport use, as well as an increase in active transport, prompting consideration for additional cycling and walking corridors.
In particular, with the steelworks boom, special consideration must be given to prepare for an increase in heavy vehicles.
“Road trains and b-triples currently use Playford Avenue and Arthur Glennie Drive. With industry ramping up, there will be a need for a dedicated heavy vehicle bypass around the town to separate commuter traffic and heavy vehicles, improving both safety and efficiency,” Ms Flaherty said.
The roads linking Whyalla with Adelaide and other major regional centres must also be reviewed and upgraded if necessary.
Ms Flaherty said RAA is already calling on the Federal Government to duplicate the Augusta Highway between Port Augusta and Port Wakefield, which is a vital link between Adelaide and the Eyre Peninsula, and already South Australia’s busiest regional highway.
“Given Augusta Highway is going to see more traffic than ever before, an upgrade to this crucial corridor is now urgent.
“And while it was great to see two new overtaking lanes constructed recently on the Lincoln Highway between Whyalla and Port Augusta, the feasibility of further upgrades to the Lincoln Highway, including the section between Whyalla and Port Lincoln, needs to be investigated too.”
Ms Flaherty said that these public infrastructure upgrades will form part of the foundation of Whyalla’s growth over the next ten to 20 years.
“They will not only facilitate greater economic benefits through improved efficiency and accessibility, but they will also keep South Australians safe, while contributing to the overall quality of life for people who live and work in Whyalla and across the Eyre Peninsula.”
RAA’s key recommendations include the construction of new arterial roads for commuter traffic and a Local Area Traffic Management Plan to make sure the roads can serve the increase in population and allow residents, visitors, freight and industry to move around safety and efficiently.