House of Assembly: Thursday, March 09, 2023


Public Works Committee: Majors Road Intersection Upgrade

Mr BROWN (Florey) (11:37): I move:

That the 25th report of the committee, entitled Majors Road Intersection Upgrade, be noted.

The public works submission from the Department for Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) proposes to construct a new interchange for the Southern Expressway at Majors Road and install new traffic signals at the junction of Majors Road and Adams Road. Situated west of Main South Road and east of Ocean Boulevard and Lonsdale Road, the Southern Expressway is a major high-speed traffic route linking the outer southern suburbs with the southern metropolitan areas of our city; however, there is currently no public vehicle access to the Southern Expressway at Majors Road.

This has been a recurring issue for local residents, particularly since 2001, after traffic volumes grew significantly with the completion of the first stage of the Southern Expressway. New on-off ramps on the Southern Expressway at Majors Road have therefore been identified as a priority upgrade. These proposed works are expected to generate economic opportunities by connecting the expanding industrial, commercial and residential growth areas in the south.

As part of the upgrade, modifications to the existing Majors Road bridge are necessary. To improve safety and increase network efficiency for vehicles accessing the Sam Willoughby International BMX facility and the Southern Soccer Facility, the construction of a new signalised junction at Majors Road and Adams Road is also proposed. The existing veloway adjacent to the Southern Expressway at Majors Road will be reconfigured and new pedestrian and cycling facilities will be installed on Majors Road to provide connectivity.

The proposed scope of works includes new on-off ramps to the Southern Expressway for access to and from the CBD and the north-south corridor, new on-off ramps to the Southern Expressway for access to and from the southern suburbs and the north-south corridor and Fleurieu Peninsula, and a widening of the Majors Road bridge to accommodate six lanes including two through lanes and a dedicated right-turn lane onto the Southern Expressway.

Emergency services will be provided direct access to the new interchange. In addition, the new design incorporates pedestrian and cycling connections to provide safer access to Glenthorne National Park, O'Halloran Hill Recreation Park and the Sam Willoughby International BMX Facility.

Key outcomes of this project include improved road safety, enhanced local access, reduced travel times, improved route reliability, increased network resilience, and realisation of investment benefits. The Australian and South Australian governments have jointly committed $120 million towards the design and construction of an interchange for the Southern Expressway, with funding split fifty-fifty.

Money from this government was committed as part of the 2022-23 state budget. Construction is scheduled to commence in mid-2023 and end in late 2025. Planning, design and investigations are already in progress. Ongoing costs for the maintenance of the proposed upgrade will be sourced from the department's annual operating budget.

The delivery of the upgrade will be undertaken through separate planning, design and construct contracts by contractors appointed through a competitive tender process. The project management will be undertaken by DIT in accordance with its program and program management guidelines and contract management procedures. External specialist recourses may be engaged, if required.

An environment and heritage impact assessment has been undertaken in accordance with the department's Environment and Heritage Impact Assessment Guidelines. The assessment identified aspects that will require investigation and assessment during the design and construction phase, as well as additional environmental approvals.

A vegetation survey of the project area was undertaken by a qualified consultant. The presence of threatened ecological communities or species of conservation significance was noted in the vicinity of the project; however, the project is unlikely to require referral under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. An ecologically sustainable development report has been prepared by the department, outlining the ecologically sustainable development (ESD) objectives and principles for the project. DIT has current endorsement of its ESD system from the Department for Environment and Water.

DIT prepared a community and stakeholder engagement plan that provides an overview of the actions needed to ensure all stakeholders, including local residents, property owners and businesses, are adequately engaged. DIT began community consultation in August 2022, resulting in the release of a preferred concept design and a summary of feedback by the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport in October 2022. Further community consultation was then initiated with a close date of 2 December 2022. DIT affirms that communication will continue throughout the works to ensure that stakeholders are kept informed and issues are identified early and managed appropriately.

The committee has examined written and oral evidence in relation to the Majors Road interchange upgrade. Witnesses who appeared before the committee were the member for Davenport; Mr Andrew Excell, Executive Director, Transport Planning and Program Development, Department for Infrastructure and Transport; and Mr Michael Rander, Delivery Manager, Department for Infrastructure and Transport. I would like to thank the witnesses for their time. I would also like to thank the member for Hurtle Vale and the member for Black for the written statements they submitted to the committee.

Based upon the evidence considered and pursuant to section 12C of the Parliamentary Committees Act 1991, the Public Works Committee reports to parliament that it recommends the proposed public works.

Ms THOMPSON (Davenport) (11:42): I am pleased to make comment on this Public Works Committee report. I am a huge advocate for the Majors Road interchange project, an election commitment of the Malinauskas government that will deliver a wide range of benefits to southern suburbs commuters, national park users, pedestrians, cyclists and the local community.

It is very pleasing to see the Albanese Labor government and the Malinauskas state government partnering on this important project and getting to work so quickly. I welcome the proposed improvements to access our beautiful Glenthorne National Park and recreation facilities, the improvement to traffic movements and the construction jobs this project will support during its construction.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the Department for Infrastructure and Transport, who have done an incredible job with the community engagement on this project. It has been an excellent process. They reached a large part of the community and received significant responses and support for the project. Demonstrating strong community support, we saw 65 per cent of the 745 survey responses positive and in support of the project.

Earlier, there had been some concerns shared about potential impact to Glenthorne National Park, noting previous Liberal government designs that showed a considerable impact. The Liberals' 2019 plan proposed to impact a minimum of 13,000 square metres of Glenthorne National Park, including 8,000 square metres of established vegetation and significant trees.

Our beautiful parks are something that I am keen to see preserved and protected. I am a keen supporter of the environment and will never waver on this topic. That is why I am pleased to see that the Department for Infrastructure and Transport has pursued a design that has minimal impact on the park and that ensures there is no impact on significant vegetation.

I am also pleased to see that engagement by the current government, with community groups and associations, has resolved all concerns regarding any impact on community facilities. While the former Liberal government's designs would have had impacts on these facilities, community representations and concerns have been listened to, and the current design has no negative impact for users.

I can confirm that, contrary to the deliberate efforts to share false information via glossy materials in the letterboxes of the Black electorate, there will be no impact to the O'Halloran Hill Recreation Park mountain bike trails, no impact to the Sam Willoughby International BMX Facility, no impact to the Southern Soccer Facility, no impact to Glenthorne Farm and very minimal impact to the Glenthorne National Park.

Pleasingly, the new design incorporates new bike connections to the national park, making it even easier and safer to journey to the park by bike. This is an excellent example of government getting community engagement right. We shared information with the community, we listened to their ideas and their concerns, we addressed those ideas and concerns and now we have a well-supported positive solution for our community. It is yet another demonstration of the Albanese and Malinauskas governments working together to get on with the job of delivering the infrastructure South Australians need and deserve.

This project will deliver lasting road infrastructure improvements, while providing critical local jobs, with approximately 245 full-time equivalent jobs to be supported each year over the construction period. We know more work on the books is always welcome news for our local construction businesses, and so I was particularly thrilled to see the South Australian Aboriginal business, RAW SA, already engaged on this region-shaping project. They have been contracted to construct project site facilities adjacent to the Riding for the Disabled Association SA site, as well as continue site investigation works to help us to better understand the underground services and inform the project's detailed design.

Just last week I met with Riding for the Disabled, and they were particularly excited to share that they have been able to negotiate with the department and the contractor to accommodate the site buildings at their site in exchange for being able to retain the hard base of that building once the works are complete so that they are able to build a future nursery on that site. They are excited about those opportunities and the many more opportunities that this project will bring to the O'Halloran Hill precinct.

The site investigation works for this great project are underway now, with the construction of site facilities set to commence in the coming weeks. We anticipate the procurement of the interchange's design and construction contract to be completed in mid-2023, with major work expected to start late this year and project completion by the end of 2025. Key design features will include:

new on/off ramps in both directions;

widening of the Majors Road bridge to accommodate two through lanes and a dedicated right-turn lane onto the Southern Expressway in both directions;

a signalised intersection to improve access to Majors Road from Adams Road;

a new dedicated bike lane on the northern side of Majors Road and a new shared-use path on the southern side of Majors Road; and

new and upgraded traffic signals, road lighting and drainage.

The community and I are extremely thankful that the current government has addressed the significant deficiencies in the former Liberal government's plan and we look forward to continued updates on this exciting project. Thank you to the Public Works Committee for their thorough consideration of this project and, importantly, for giving it the green light.

The Hon. N.F. COOK (Hurtle Vale—Minister for Human Services) (11:48): I want to make a brief contribution on this really important project to upgrade and provide improved access to the Southern Expressway via the Majors Road intersection. In 2014, I was elected to this place and, very early in the doorknocking of the then Fisher community in O'Halloran Hill, the difficulties that this group of people had accessing the Southern Expressway, and how they really desperately wanted to be able to use what was going to become a really important piece of infrastructure in the north-south journey, were highlighted to me.

I set about starting to have those conversations with our then Labor government. This has been an ongoing conversation through our community and the desired outcome, it seems, is now going to be achieved. I am really pleased to see that.

I am not in the habit of wasting my time looking through the social media of any other party or the opposition, as such. However, people did raise with me that back in 2018, just before the state election, the then member for Black and now Leader of the Opposition had posted a video on Facebook prioritising this particular project as the number one priority. I have the post printed here in front of me, which is still there, including a video, saying:


For far too long, the Southern Expressway has by-passed our community and I want that to change!

Delivering an on/off ramp at Majors Road is my number one priority and this will mean:

access to the expressway for Hallett Cove, Sheidow Park, Trott Park and O'Halloran Hill;

quicker access to the city and the Fleurieu;

improving traffic flow and reducing pressure on South Road and other roads.

I am 100% focused on delivering this project with design works budgeted for early in the term of a new Liberal government.

Well, the member for Black as a minister in the previous cabinet spent the next four years, sadly, having to retreat from that commitment for whatever the reasons might have been. But I know that the community is now very excited that our state Labor government and the federal Labor government have been able to navigate this impending catastrophe that is now articulated by the member for Black around environmental and access concerns and carving out unnecessary components, according to him, of the national park.

I am very pleased that the grown-ups have actually worked out a way to do this so that we get great access to Glenthorne Farm and we get access to Sam Willoughby's BMX track if and when it opens. I am not sure it is open yet, again, after the catastrophe that was the burns that slid down and looked more like blankets than racetrack after the rains that came on the day of the opening. That was all a bit embarrassing. Hopefully, now we will see access, improved traffic flow, both south and north, and for those who live in my 'hood there will be better access to the national park—Ityamaiitpinna Yarta is the traditional name—the BMX track and the southern soccer facility.

I know that residents of my old Fisher haunt—now ably looked after by my friend the member for Davenport—will be very pleased with the commitment; a real commitment that stacks up, a real commitment that is delivering for the south.

Mr TARZIA (Hartley) (11:53): I rise to speak about the Majors Road interchange upgrade report. Obviously the member for Schubert and myself carefully researched this very matter and we did of course submit our own minority report. I would like to touch on a few of these issues that we have arrived at.

Obviously we are concerned about the committee's decision to support a proposed project for purposes that we say will result in fact in little to no gain for the community, but also come at enormous cost. During the committee stage we were able to delve a little bit deeper into the economic cost-benefit analysis. Certainly we had serious questions surrounding the lack of rigorous economic analysis applied to this proposed project.

We know that the former government obviously did conduct a body of work, and the economic benefit was not totally justified. The only thing that changed after the election was, of course, the government and, as well as that, a new minister and a new CEO, and we have seen a change, if you like, in direction. Whilst that is the prerogative of the new government, the economics remain the same. In fact, ceteris paribus, the costs have actually increased. When that is the case, I cannot understand how the economic benefit increases; if anything, it only decreases.

There is also in the community a substantial group of people who are not in favour and see this as quite unfavourable, and that there will also be unintended consequences if it proceeds, including impacts to Glenthorne National Park, as we have heard. There was extensive community consultation conducted by government and opposition late in 2022, and we have seen a significant proportion of the community that remains unconvinced about the value, but also the benefits of the project, with 35 per cent of respondents indicating that their sentiment towards the project is either negative or very negative.

I did also point out that in the analysis commissioned by the former government in 2020, it found that the proposed on/off ramp at Majors Road would result in no, or questionably any, road safety benefits, would significantly increase traffic volumes and also have some restriction of access to the Glenthorne precinct. That particular cost-benefit ratio deemed the expenditure unjustifiable. I asked questions in the committee about this and there were various explanations given about why, for example, the discount rate had changed. That seems to be a little bit inconsistent, sir, but that could be a debate for another day. I do not want to talk to you about net present values and discount rates as it might put you to sleep, sir, even being the good, astute Speaker that you are.

Despite reference by the transport minister to there being a positive benefit cost ratio, we do not think that that has been adequately substantiated. I also asked questions about wider economic benefit, so there is not just the net present value you have to look at, but you also have to look at the wider economic benefit. When you look at that on balance, we find it incredible that the government would propose a $120 million investment—in reality, of course, it is going to be more than a $120 million investment of taxpayer funding—when we say that there are countless other competing demands.

At the end of the day, there are infinite wants and limited resources, and we have to use those resources to get the best bang for buck possible. We find it incredible that the government would have proposed an over $120 million investment of taxpayer funding when there are countless competing demands, including, for example, to complete the north-south corridor, and a third arrester bed on the South Eastern Freeway.

Look at the lives lost on our roads at the moment. We have had an horrendous start here in South Australia. We do not want to politicise road safety—we do not; however, what is happening at the moment is just not good enough, and we say that there are far more substantial higher priorities to which this government should be allocating resources.

Mr BROWN (Florey) (11:57): I would like to thank those who have contributed to the debate, the member for Davenport and the minister, and I would also like to thank the member for Hartley for his contribution in outlining the opposition's reason for opposing this particular project. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the member for Schubert and the member for Hartley for the contributions they made to the committee's consideration of this particular project.

Motion carried.