DURING Premier Steven Marshall’s first visit to the region as state leader in April 2018 he reaffirmed the Liberal State Government pledge to fund and complete the long-awaited Penola bypass.
Last week, the premier toured the $14.6m stage two work on the town’s main street detour for the first time since its completion earlier this year.
The northern bypass construction was jointly funded with the Federal Government contributing $11.7m and the State Government funding the remaining $2.9m.
Wattle Range Council contributed more than $2m to acquire the corridor for the bypass.
Mr Marshall said residents had waited too long for the northern section of the bypass to be completed.
“The people of the South East have been crying out for this project for decades and it’s wonderful to have been able to deliver it,” he said.
“I was there just the other week to see it for myself and to hear from the local community about how big of a difference it’s making to the safety of the town.
“This project also created dozens of jobs for the region and now it’s complete is slashing travel times as well.”
The first and southern stage of the bypass was completed in 2015 with the State Government funding the 2.5km section between Robe Road and Riddoch Highway.
The Federal Government’s contribution for stage two, earmarked for 2015 as part of the South Australian Regional Roads Package, was rejected by the Weatherill Government, claiming the Coalition’s offer of funding would be effectively cancelled out by a decrease in Commonwealth GST funding.
Despite initially being non-committal to the bypass before the election, the State Liberals pledged funding to complete the major infrastructure project following a pre-election promise by SA-Best leader Nick Xenophon.
Member for MacKillop Nick McBride said the bypass eased pressure on the region’s overburdened road network and improved the amenity of Penola’s main street.
“It was a pleasure to take the premier for a drive along the recently completed Penola bypass,” he said.
“It gave him the opportunity to see the flow of heavy vehicles that are now able to bypass the town, making the main street much safer for both locals and those who wish to stop and enjoy this historic township.
“The bypass further refines the important north-south freight route for truck drivers, making it an easier and faster route for drivers involved in the important delivery of goods to and from our major service centres.
“I am thankful to both Federal and State governments, as well as Wattle Range Council for delivering on this important infrastructure project for South Australia.”