Holiday-makers can now breathe more easily after a $90 million solution was found to the Port Wakefield traffic bottleneck.
Motorists, many towing boats and caravans, have for years been delayed by congestion at the town and the nearby turn-off to the Copper Coast during the holiday season.
The federal government will spend $72 million to duplicate Port Wakefield Road and build an overpass to enable drivers to avoid the intersection with the Augusta and Copper Coast highways.
The state government will contribute the other $18 million needed for the long-awaited project.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack joined Grey MP Rowan Ramsey and state Transport Minister Stephan Knoll and Narungga MP Fraser Ellis in Port Wakefield on Thursday to unveil the venture. The dual-lane road through the town will boost the local economy by $20 million.
“Mr Ramsey has been putting the case about what an important link this is between Adelaide and tourist and agricultural areas in the Yorke Peninsula and to the north of the state,” Mr McCormack said.
“His voice in Government has delivered and this investment will see a single-lane overpass for Port Wakefield Road over the intersection of the Augusta and Copper Coast highways.
“Working with the new Liberal South Australian government, we will also duplicate Port Wakefield Road through the town, starting at the end of the existing road duplication south of Port Wakefield and continuing to the Copper Coast Highway junction.”
Mr Knoll said both locals and visitors to the area were sick of congestion and delays in Port Wakefield, particularly at holiday peaks.
“High traffic volumes and conflicting traffic flows are a big issue in the area and the Yorke Peninsula so it is pleasing to have the federal government deliver a solution,” he said.
He said the project would reduce congestion, cut travel times, improve route reliability and boost safety around the intersection.
“We expect this will support tourism by improving road access through to the beautiful Yorke Peninsula,” he said.
Mr Ramsey said the project was essential for road safety and will fix “once and for all” the bottleneck.
“Traffic volumes both to Yorke Peninisula and on the National Highway will continue to increase and this project is long overdue,” he said.
“There are real benefits for local businesses and freight operators with a significant increase to road network safety and freight efficiency. There will also be a collective sigh of relief from parents waving goodbye to their children en route back to Adelaide after home visits at holiday weekends,” he said.
“This is what we get when our state government works with the federal government. I congratulate Mr Ellis and former candidate for Frome Kendall Jackson who have worked strongly with me to achieve this project.”
Wakefield Regional Council Mayor Rodney Reid said his council had lobbied for many years for the work.
He said the project would serve the Yorke Peninsula, Copper Coast, Eyre Peninsula, Upper Spencer Gulf, Flinders, Far North, Western Australia and Northern Territory.
“Port Wakefield is a real gem with a rich history and attractions such as the historic walking trail, the peaceful wharf and tidal swimming pool,” he said.
He stressed the benefits of a dual-lane road over a bypass around Port Wakefield, saying the loop would have been three times as costly and unlikely to win funding in the next two decades.
“Upgrading through Port Wakefield instead will bring an estimated $20 million of development in the short term,” he said.
The development is expected to be finished in 2022.