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Govt snubs city council on SA's busiest bus corridor - again

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The State Government has flatly rejected Martin Haese’s plea for cash to rebuild Adelaide’s most important bus corridor – snubbing the Lord Mayor for a second year running.

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The morning after last year’s state budget, Haese told InDaily he was “disappointed” it contained no funding for Grenfell Street, which is due for an influx of hundreds of extra buses a day when the Government completes its O-Bahn upgrade.

He argued at the time that it was primarily the Government’s responsibility to upgrade the street because it was Government buses that would impact the road.

This morning, Haese told InDaily that this year’s state budget had also failed to allocate cash to rebuild the street, which was subject to “rapid degradation” as a result of the buses.

He said the problem would only get worse as about 600 extra buses a day travel along the street – bringing the total to about 2800 a day – once the O-Bahn is complete.

He wants a “partnership” with the State Government for “a fairly substantial re-build” of the road, well beyond council resurfacing of the bitumen, arguing the entire “streetscape” needs an overhaul.

Haese said that “many of the essential services don’t sit far beneath the surface” of the road, and should be relocated – and that while the city council can continue to “resurface that road again and again, and again”, that would constitute a “series of short-term fixes”.

“To resurface … a road is typically within the mandate of the city council.

“[But] the rapid degradation … is a result of a very high number of buses.

“What we’ve been calling for is a partnership with the state.”

But a spokesperson for Transport Minister Stephen Mullighan told InDaily this morning: “Grenfell Street comes under the case and control of the council, which is responsible for its maintenance.”

Haese said in response: “Yes, that is correct – however, it is the only road that I know of that will soon have 2800 buses on it every day.

“That’s why we are seeking a partnership to substantially improve the road surface and immediate surrounds.”

Haese denied that there was a funding “standoff” between the council and the Government, adding that his vision for the street involved extensive greening and priority for pedestrians, with a new, wider, higher-quality footpath.

Haese also lamented the lack of any new funding in yesterday’s budget for the AdeLINK tram network extension.

“There’s a very strong link [between] tram links and economic growth,” he argued.

Instead, Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis unveiled a $22.4 million funding boost for each of the state’s train lines, $15 million for Park ‘n’ Ride car parks along the O-Bahn route, and funding for the duplication of Main South Road from Seaford to Sellicks Beach.

Like Haese, the State Government is also asking for co-funding for a major transport project from a higher level of government.

Koutsantonis said the Government would spend almost half a billion dollars completing the electrification of the Gawler train line – but only if the Federal Government goes 50/50 to fund it.

Though there were disappointments for Haese in yesterday’s budget, he applauded the Government for the announcement it would trial six hydrogen buses – and potentially convert the Government’s entire fleet to the environmentally friendly vehicles if the trial is a success. He urged that the trial take place on city routes.

He also said his council was “delighted” with the new $10,000 grant program for first home-buyers who purchase yet-to-be-built, off-the-plan apartments in the CBD.

In addition, the Government will extend a stamp-duty concession for off-the-plan apartments – up to $15,500 – for another year.

The announcement came two months after the council agreed to give new CBD residents five years rate-free – if they buy off-the-plan apartments, or city dwellings adapted from run-down office buildings.

The council made the measure contingent on a contribution of “equal or greater measure” from the State Government.

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