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Labor unconvinced by $1.8 billion roads, rail funding pledge

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The State Government says it expects $1.8 billion for SA roads and rail funding in tomorrow’s federal budget, but the Opposition has doubts about the commitment.

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Of the funding, $220 million will go towards finishing the long-promised Gawler rail electrification project and $160 million will be used to duplicate Port Augusta’s Joy Baluch Bridge – an improvement to the national freight network.

The remainder has been allocated to the South Road upgrade, with the government specifying $177 million will fund work on the Pym St to Regency Rd section and the rest classed as early-stage funding for future sections.

Transport Minister Stephan Knoll said the budget allocation was “fantastic news” for the state.

“The Federal Government is showing its commitment to South Australia and this is what happens when a mature state government works together with the Federal Government,” he told ABC Radio Adelaide.

But Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas said the details of the funding had not yet been revealed and may not be included in the budget.

“Labor gladly welcomes the Federal Government stepping up to the plate and realising the Labor vision of a non-stop North-South corridor on South Road,” he told reporters today.

“(But) if that money is not in the budget tomorrow night, then it will be clear that Steven Marshall and the state Liberals have been taken for a ride by their federal mates.

“We just want this realisation of this vision to occur.”

But  federal Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Cities told FIVEAA radio this morning that the budget would contain “a very significant infrastructure commitment for Adelaide and South Australia”.

“Just last week we committed $177 million for the next stage of the North-South Corridor – that’s Regency Road to Pym Street … we’ll be announcing a further $1.2 billion for future projects on the North-South Corridor,” he said.

“We’re determined to work with the Marshall Government, which is bringing a new business-like approach to infrastructure in South Australia.”

Several parts of South Road, which stretches from Adelaide’s north to its south, have already been upgraded as part of a Coalition promise to complete the work within a decade.

It is likely the next section to be funded will be Anzac Highway to Torrens Road, pending a detailed business case from the State Government.

The South Road and Gawler rail projects are to be funded 50-50 by the South Australian and federal governments, while the Federal Government will pay for 80 per cent of the bridge project.

– with AAP

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