The state’s leading mobility organisation says multi-million dollar investments ranging from shovel-ready road maintenance projects to main street makeovers will provided the regions with a much needed economic stimulus amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Supporting the state’s tourist economy is a key proposition in RAA’s submission to next month’s state budget.
An RAA member survey in September found more than 90 per cent of respondents will holiday in regional South Australia in the next year, due in part to coronavirus pandemic travel restrictions.
To enhance the appeal of regional towns, RAA is seeking the establishment of a $20 million State Government Main Street Makeover Fund.
RAA spokesman Charles Mountain said revitalised public places encouraged both visitors and local residents to spend time in a town rather than simply passing through.
“Many South Australian regional towns are centred on a main street, often with attractive heritage-listed buildings,’’ he said.
“The makeover fund could provide enhancements such as upgraded footpaths, better pedestrian lighting, seating, public art, additional landscaping and provision for smart technology such as Wi-Fi. These types of improvements could be planned and implemented relatively quickly, creating work for local businesses and deliver long-term benefits for the whole community.’’
Mr Mountain said this would be an opportunity for councils to work with their local communities to develop an application for Main Street Makeover co-funding to revitalise their main streets.
RAA is also seeking to support tourism by asking the State Government to:
- Improve mobile data coverage in the state’s national parks and other key tourist locations.
- Help local councils develop cycling trails, building SA’s reputation as a cycling and wine destination.
- Facilitate future travel to regional SA by investing in a network of electric vehicle fast charging stations across the state, including at Wilpena Pound.
RAA’s state budget submission also focuses on improvements to the regional road network.
Last year, South Australia recorded its highest road toll since 2010, with 114 people losing their lives, many in regional SA.
Mr Mountain said this tragic outcome highlighted the crucial need for continued investment in the road network, and why RAA has been lobbying for a boost to state’s annual road maintenance budget.
“Infrastructure SA has classified 75 per cent of South Australia’s road surfaces as being in poor condition, so we welcomed the joint announcement in September by the federal and state governments of an extra $46 million to be spent on road upgrades,’’ he said.
“We are looking for this good news to continue with a commitment from the State Government to increase the annual road maintenance budget from $110 million to $160 million, with an additional $145 million extra per year over the next 5 years to eliminate the backlog of work that needs to be completed.’’
RAA has also called for a State Government commitment to:
- Construct 3 overtaking lanes along the Riddoch Hwy, between Keith and Naracoorte.
- Upgrade the Spencer Hwy between Minlaton and Maitland, along with Upper Yorke Rd from Kulpara to Maitland.
- Ensure a consistent level of reliable mobile phone coverage along the state’s transport corridors.
- Upgrade Dukes Highway to accommodate autonomous freight transport and connected vehicle technology.