OPINION: Investment needed in substandard roads

Imagine you are travelling along a country road, and you’re jolted as your car tyre lurches in and out of a deep pothole. It’s unfortunately an all too familiar experience for many across regional SA.

Now imagine you are in a truck loaded with grain and your tyre dips in and out of that same pothole. Not only does that hole get bigger, but the safety of the truck driver (and others on the road), as well as his load of grain is potentially at risk.

For too long the South Australian grain industry, which is expected to contribute almost $4.5 billion to the state’s economy from the 2022/23 harvest, has been ignored when it comes to road maintenance, repair and upgrade.

For this reason, Grain Producers SA (GPSA) undertook the ‘Worst Grain Road’ campaign to find the route in the poorest condition in the state. These routes are key to getting grain to port.

The campaign saw almost 60 different roads across the state nominated, however it was the Upper Yorke Road, Nine Mile Road, and Worlds End Highway that were voted the top three.

Comments from grain producers and truck drivers to go with the submissions should have decision makers immediately concerned and in fact, I’d be worried if they weren’t already concerned.

As one grain producer put it when commenting on Upper Yorke Road: “It’s a prime agricultural area that is producing millions of dollars in grain and sheep, yet we’ve got a third-class road to travel on”.

During the campaign we heard that some heavy vehicle drivers are having to veer onto the opposite side of the road to avoid bumps, potholes and undulating surfaces. Some said they struggled to control their truck when tyres dropped off the edge of the narrow roads.

The lack of investment into our Federal, State and Local Government run roads, results in grain producers losing productivity, as well as putting themselves and the safety of other road users at.

The total road maintenance backlog in South Australia was estimated to be at almost

$800 million in 2020 and growing by $100 million every year.

It’s high time that improvements are made, so GPSA is calling on immediate investment into the top ten ‘Worst Grain Roads’ in SA.

The full Worst Grain Roads Report is available to download at www.grainproducerssa.com.au