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City laneways gain traction with costlier local pavers

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Several city laneways will be lined with South Australian granite pavers – rather than imports – as part of multi-million-dollar upgrades beginning this week.

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The local pavers will be 35 per cent more expensive, but the Adelaide City Council is “confident” the stone won’t cause a repeat of its slippery-paver embarrassments of recent years.

In 2014, the council had to reduce speeds across the newly redeveloped western end of Hindley Street after an investigation found the pavers were too slippery for vehicles in the wet.

Later that year, pavers on the road bisecting Victoria Square were also found to be too slippery, and speeds there were reduced.

In 2015, the council spent $50,000 covering the Hindley Street pavers in bitumen, to add traction.

But the new South Australian pavers along Bank Street – which accepts vehicles – and Topham Mall – which does not – will be extensively tested for slipperiness, the council’s administration says.

A spokesperson for the council told InDaily this morning: “The contractor is required to produce evidence of continued testing to ensure the quality standards of the laid material meets the skid and slip testing requirements.

“[The] council is confident that it has undertaken the necessary testing and due diligence to ensure the paving design will meet both pedestrian and vehicular traffic requirements.”

The contract to supply the granite pavers has been awarded to UrbanStone, which has offices in South Australia.

The granite will be quarried from the Black Hill Mine at Mannum and from the Padthaway Mine in the state’s south-east. The manufacturing and processing of the granite into pavers, kerbing and seating will be undertaken by local stonemasons SD Tillett Memorials.

But local materials and expertise come at a cost.

“The material and manufacturing costs using local sources were more expensive than imported options submitted by approximately 35 per cent,” the council spokesperson said.

“However, the local sourcing of the stone and the local cutting of the stone into pavers has created additional work for local businesses, which is a boost to the South Australian economy.”

In response to criticism from Area councillor Anne Moran over the use of “cheap” Chinese pavers in the then-newly-redeveloped Rundle Mall, then-council CEO Peter Smith reportedly said in 2013 that specifying local products would not allow for competitive tender processes and expose ratepayers to price gouging.

But the council spokesperson told InDaily this morning: “The tender was released to the open market and, whilst it included evaluation criteria to support local products and services, it in no way ‘locked out’ any potential supplier.”

An artist’s impression of planned upgrades to Topham Mall. Image: supplied.

The renewed pavers are part of a $14.5 million upgrade to laneways linking the Central Market to the riverbank – including Pitt Street, Bentham Street, Topham Mall, Leigh Street and Bank Street.

Lord Mayor Martin Haese said in a statement that “South Australia is full of talented, innovative and enthusiastic businesses which can deliver materials and services for key projects in South Australia, supporting the future economic activity of our state.

“The City of Adelaide is working in close partnership with Renewal SA and the State Government to ensure South Australian businesses have an opportunity to participate in all projects in the city.

“Our commitment to measuring economic contribution to South Australia in city projects as one of our considerations shows our willingness to invest in the innovation and future of South Australian businesses, while still ensuring that we deliver value for money and a quality product for our ratepayers.”

City of Adelaide Minister John Rau said that since the introduction of the Small Venue Licence in 2013, more than 80 new venues had generated an estimated 1000 jobs and $80 million in economic activity within Adelaide’s small streets and laneways.

“The Market to Riverbank Laneways link will be a huge boost for businesses in the precinct,” he said.

“Improvements to this important pedestrian link through the city will complement the Government’s changes to encourage more people to invest in our CBD.”

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