By Raquel Mustillo
A REBUILD of the Southern Ports Highway, upgrades to the Beachport and Southend jetty and renovations to Penola High School are among major projects on Member for MacKillop Nick McBride’s multi-million dollar State Budget wishlist.
The Liberal MP said any road infrastructure upgrades should include funding for the state-owned Southern Ports Highway – particularly from Millicent to Beachport – and the intersection with Southend Access Road.
Shoulder sealing and barrier upgrades were undertaken between Beachport and Millicent under the 2014/15 South Australian black spot program, but has been labelled as one of the state’s top ten riskiest roads.
“The highway is a primary route to access tourist destinations, but it is called 50 Shades of Grey or the patchwork quilt because of its condition,” Mr McBride said.
“It has a rough surface, narrow lanes and a lack of overtaking opportunities.
“With tourism like it is at the moment, it would be great to fix it up to meet the tourist expectations and make it safer for residents who use it on a regular basis.”
Mr McBride hoped the Southend and Beachport jetties would receive funding for upgrades following the government announcing a $20m three year initiative to repair jetties and boat ramps across the state.
Although the first round of jetties have been announced, Mr McBride said the jetties provided a social and economic benefit to the coastal towns but maintenance on both structures was needed.
“Beachport and Southend jetties can be used both by tourists and the commercial fishery and upgrading them both to make sure they work to their highest ability is very important,” he said.
“The maintenance on them which has been required has been met, but only just.
“Because they are supporting both tourists and the industry, I think they should be maintained at a significantly higher standard rather than the poorer standard they currently are.”
Mr McBride called for additional mobile phone towers in Furner, Sherwood and Frances, saying the Optus tower scheduled for installation at Legges Lane was not likely to provide adequate coverage for the Furner district.
“A huge big black spot starts around Hatherleigh, goes around Furner and head around Kalangadoo at the back of Mount Burr,” he said.
“The tower at Legges Lane is right on the northern end of Furner and we are not sure how far that will reach and what part of the area that will cover.
“It certainly will help, but we don’t think it is going to cover even half the problem.
“It will be interesting to see where Legges Lane does work in meeting the mobile coverage hole.”
Mr McBride said urgent upgrades were needed at Penola High School and Lucindale Area School, adding the weatherboard facilities were “tired and outdated”.
“Both schools have not been done up since the 60s and 70s,” he said.
“There is a lot of potential to make the schools more attractive for students and staff who are required to use the facilities.”
Mr McBride also hoped for a long-term funding allocation for the Keith and District Hospital after the facility’s funding ran out last month.