South Australian government commits $2.5 million for the Birdseye Highway

DANGER: District Council of Cleve CEO Peter Arnold and T-Ports GMO Tim Gurney survey the poor condition of the Birdseye Highway.
DANGER: District Council of Cleve CEO Peter Arnold and T-Ports GMO Tim Gurney survey the poor condition of the Birdseye Highway.

The Birdseye Highway could be widened by the end of the financial year thanks to the state government committing $2.5 million to improve the safety of the road.

The funding came in the 2018/2019 budget and works should be complete before the highway becomes a truck route for grain growers.

Traffic from the grain storage facility in Lock to the Lucky Bay port is expected to run along the Birdseye Highway when construction finishes ahead of next year’s harvest.

The Lock facility holds enough grain to fill 3000 road trains to send across to Lucky Bay.

Cleve District Council chief executive officer Peter Arnold said the council had been advocating for funding to be allocated to improve safety along the narrow highway for more than three years.

“If you get a road train coming in the other direction the road disappears pretty quickly,” he said.

Mr Arnold said edge sealing was the “most significant way to increase safety” on roads, and the government hoped to turn the entire highway into an eight-metre carriageway wherever possible.

The funding comes in addition to a $1.45 million commitment from the federal government to improve at least 12 bends along the Birdseye and Tod highways.

T-Ports, currently building the Lucky Bay port, have been speaking to the Department of Transport, Planning and Infrastructure for around 12 months to gain support to improve infrastructure for the changing supply routes.

General manager of operations Tim Gurney said obtaining the funding was a great example of the council and business working together, and thanked the DPTI and the state government for listening.

“It’s good to see they’re listening to local councils and businesses and directing funds where it’s needed most,” he said.

Mr Gurney said the new grain transport facilities would change freight routes across the Eyre Peninsula, reducing maintenance costs on other roads.

“What needs to be spent on one road can be saved on another.”

With roadworks expected to be complete long before the port opens, there will be no waiting period for truck drivers to have a safe route between Cowell and Cleve.

While Mr Gurney is pleased the works will provide a safer route for grain growers, he said the benefits would extend to the whole community.