Leadership needed to ensure public safety

THE news of Viterra's decision to transport grain purely by road transport spread like wildfire on Tuesday after the announcement was made. 

This announcement came shortly after more than 30 Genesee and Wyoming Australia (GWA) staff were told they would not have jobs come May 31. 

No local staff will be retained to maintain the network or run the trains and it is possible many of these families will leave the Eyre Peninsula.

But GWA were quick to say the rail network was not closing - that it would remain open. 

The Port Lincoln Times was told it was a 'nuance' but an 'important one'.

It would be more accurate to say the rail network will still be here it just won't be used for anything.

Viterra estimates that the closure will mean an extra 12,000 loaded truck trips a year or 48 loaded truck trips Monday to Friday - 12 loaded trucks for the Lincoln Highway and 32 for the Tod Highway each week.

True, it is much less than the 30,000 a year estimated by the Eyre Peninsula Local Government Association in December, but it is still roughly seven loaded B-triple or B-doubles on the Tod Highway.

This puts the safety of drivers in local towns and on the highway at risk and will totally destroy road condition. 

The announcement also makes the $2.24 million the Port Lincoln City Council and the federal government each spent on the London Street bridge upgrade seem like a bit of an overspend. 

What the region needs now is answers and urgent investment in its roads.

Access upgrades through Port Lincoln, intersection investment at up-country facilities, overtaking lanes, and shoulder sealing on the Tod and Flinders Highways are going to be critical. 

It is a sad time but the decision has been made, the months of uncertainty have ended which is doubt a bittersweet moment for GWA employees. 

However, now it is up to our elected leaders at local, state and federal level to stand up to ensure local people are safe on the roads. 

While it has been reassuring to hear these leaders offer reassurance and talk about moving forward the coming months will hopefully be months of action.