Australia, Industry Issues, Transport Features

The rallying cry behind the Greater Adelaide Freight Bypass project

The Greater Adelaide Freight Bypass project has been placed on ice, but there is serious and crucial support to have its funding reinstated
A truck driving on a city road.

Australia’s road freight routes are crucial to keeping the country moving. Why, then, has a key project in South Australia ground to a halt and kept one of the nation’s most crucial freight routes on narrow residential roads?

Funding for multiple road projects in South Australia was pulled at the end of 2023, including funding for the Truro Bypass – which was a critical project in the overall realisation of the Greater Adelaide Freight Bypass (GAFB).

Federal Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Catherine King stated at the time the funding cuts came as a result of the government’s desire to focus on projects that would “improve productivity and take pressure off inflation”.

The cuts mean Portrush Road and Glen Osmond Road in Adelaide’s east are still part of the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator’s (NHVR) national network and act as a major arterial freight route, despite running through a residential area less than 10km from the city centre.

As a result, these two roads bear the brunt of heavy road freight in the area.

Through data collected via the National Freight Data Hub in 2018, it is shown over 2400 heavy vehicles access the roads every day.

In the data heavy vehicles are defined as trucks with an aggregate mass of over 4.5 tonnes that can reach up to 26 metres in length.

There is faith and desire to get this project reinstated from multiple angles though. Parties both within the Australian transport industry and those who live and work in and around one of the state’s busiest routes have expressed the need to revamp the project for the good of not only the residents in the area, but to keep Australia’s road freight moving as efficiently as possible.

The City of Burnside is one of six local councils impacted by the arterial freight route, and Mayor Anne Monceaux and CEO Chris Cowley recently travelled to Canberra for the Local Government AGM with a desire to breathe new life into a project that would not only improve life for those living in the impacted area, but for the truckies who make the journey into Adelaide every day.

“The Local Government AGM sees local government representatives from councils all across Australia meet every year in Canberra to listen to speakers, move motions for support on issues and meet with federal politicians to lobby for funding or projects,” Monceaux told ATN.

“We had already met with our local Commonwealth and state government representatives who represent the opposition ahead of the AGM. Our intent was to meet with Catherine King to reinforce the urgent need for the bypass.

“The minister confirmed the federal government has provided significant funds to facilitate further study to enable a final business case to be prepared. The business case will then support future budget requests to hopefully enable the GAFB to be constructed.”

So, then, the dreams of the GAFB are far from dead in the water. In fact, they’re alive and kicking – so much so that following the federal government’s decision to initially pull funding from the project that South Australia’s state government announced its possible intention to fund the project themselves – such is its importance.

Monceaux says while the state government’s support is crucial in getting the project reinstated, the GAFB is a national issue.

“We are pleased the state government supports this bypass,” Monceaux continues.

“Plans are underway for its construction by our Department of Infrastructure and Transport, but we believe it will also require support funding from the Commonwealth government.

“After all, it is the national freight route.”

The construction of a project of the magnitude of the GAFB is not lost on Monceaux or her constituents, however after 14 years of lobbying for the project to be engaged, there is obvious frustration that progress is so close, yet so far.

Ultimately, the construction of the GAFB is estimated to pull over 877,000 heavy vehicles off the Portrush and Glen Osmond roads route every year.

Since lobbying began in 2010, the face of the Australian trucking industry has changed. Trucks are larger and more powerful, can carry more cargo, and – crucially – continue to widen.

“The size and volume of trucks has increased exponentially since 2010 when we first starting lobbying and it will continue to increase,” Monceaux says.

“Liveability for our neighbourhoods could vastly deteriorate as people walking, riding, driving, crossing and accessing Portrush Road will be placed at elevated risk.

“I understand the necessity of the national freight route and the impact it has on drivers, and I believe a bypass would make it safer and faster for interstate trucks to move freight by avoiding a steep, slow descent down the Adelaide Hills and avoid the daily commuters of smaller trucks and cars as they head to the city.

“The intersection has been a place of unfortunate tragedy through loss of life and accidents on these roads. It is the only capital city in Australia where the freight route goes through suburbia. In fact, it goes through six different council areas.

“The road is narrow, there are many school and traffic lights for large trucks – especially b doubles – to traverse.

“The distance would be further, but a speed limit of 110 km/h would more than make up for that given the delays experienced at traffic lights driving through suburbia.”

Read more ATN:
Crucial Queensland road projects to benefit heavy vehicles
Key Austroads survey closing soon
RFNSW announces heavy-hitting gala guest speaker list

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