Upgrades were needed years before closure

$32 million has been pledged by the state and federal government to address road safety issues and to undertake road upgrades on the Eyre Peninsula.

When in Port Lincoln earlier this week state Transport Minister Stephan Knoll admitted the government knew about the closure and had noted the under investment in the region's roads, yet the closure of the rail network was the 'catalyst' that spurred the sudden funding commitment.

The $32-million for roads was needed before the announcement was made.

State and federal governments should be acting instead of reacting when it comes to these issues.

With the closure looming just 22 days away none of the needed upgrades have even been started let alone completed.

Now the pressure is on to get the work started before harvest begins.

Upgrading roads takes time yet the window the government has given itself, in part to the announcement by Genesee and Wyoming Australia (GWA) and Viterra, is about six-months.

If the state government had been in talks with GWA and Viterra for some time, one would think it could have taken action sooner or at least had the road priorities sorted, ready for work to start.

Despite 60 to 70 per cent of grain already being transported on the road, the extra 40 per cent is worrying considering the delayed action.

We all know the state government needs weigh up all options and priorities moving forward, but the angst in the community on road safety could have been eased if earlier action had been taken.

Understandingly people feel left in the dark about the decision that's been made and frustrated the inability to do anything about it.

The highest priorities are the roads that lead in and out of Port Lincoln, widening the Tod Highway and to build overtaking lanes on the Lincoln Highway.

Some people have suggested the 33 jobs lost due to the rail closure will instead turn up in heavy vehicle operator jobs.

But 33 full time jobs becoming available in the trucking industry in order to meet demands for transporting the added grain via roads seems unlikely.

The only positive to come out of the closure is that roads will finally be upgraded but the when and where remains unanswered.