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From the Chief Executive

Picture Of Jon Whelan - Chief Executive - DITThe Department for Infrastructure and Transport (the Department) delivered important infrastructure projects, transport improvements and essential services for South Australians in the 2021-2022 financial year, while continuing to respond to the impacts of COVID-19.

A key focus for the 2021-2022 financial year was the continued delivery of a multi-billion dollar pipeline of infrastructure investment, resulting in some of the Department’s major projects being completed or achieving significant milestones.

In June 2022, passenger services returned to the Gawler rail line, the second line to be electrified across the Adelaide Metropolitan rail network. The new electrified line between Adelaide and Gawler provides a cleaner, quieter, and faster service for the thousands of northern suburbs commuters who use it every day. The Department also took delivery of four new electric trains during the year, with a further eight to be delivered in 2023.

The new Granite Island Causeway at Victor Harbor opened to pedestrians in December 2021. The new Causeway will ensure that Granite Island continues to be a major tourism drawcard for Victor Harbor and the Fleurieu Peninsula and provides better and more reliable access to the island.

To celebrate the Ngarrindjeri and Ramindjeri Traditional Owners’ continued connection to Country, the Granite Island Causeway project team worked closely with five local Indigenous artists to create a continuous Aboriginal artwork along the length of the structure. The artwork features etchings of 11 characters from Ngarrindjeri and Ramindjeri Dreaming stories, as well as connecting motifs.

Two of the biggest road infrastructure projects ever undertaken in regional South Australia, the Port Wakefield Overpass and Highway Duplication and Joy Baluch AM Bridge Duplication projects, also reached major milestones, as work continues.

The new Copper Coast Overpass north of Port Wakefield was opened to traffic in December 2021. The overpass removes all hazardous at-grade turn movements at the intersection of the Port Wakefield Highway, Copper Coast Highway and Augusta Highway.

In May 2022, traffic was switched onto the newly constructed section of the duplicated Joy Baluch AM Bridge in Port Augusta for the first time, to allow work to begin to upgrade the old bridge. A community event was held to mark the occasion, with thousands of locals taking the unique opportunity to walk over the new section before it opened to traffic.

Being born and raised in Port Augusta, I am particularly proud of the achievement and the legacy it will leave.

Major works commenced in early 2022, on other major regional infrastructure upgrades including the Augusta Highway Duplication Project between Port Wakefield and Lochiel, and Fleurieu Connections Main South Road and Victor Harbor Road Duplication Projects. Together, these projects are worth nearly $1 billion and will support more than 1,000 jobs throughout their construction over the next few years.

The Department’s ongoing program of metropolitan intersection upgrades continued throughout 2021-2022, with road users now benefitting from completed upgrades at the intersections of Main North Road and Nottage Terrace; Main North Road, Kings Road, and McIntyre Road; and Portrush Road and Magill Road. Traffic was also switched onto the newly constructed Torrens Road Bridge in June 2022, as part of the Ovingham Level Crossing Removal Project, removing the need for traffic to stop for passing trains on the Gawler rail line and improving safety.

During the year, the Department progressed the delivery of over 100 social infrastructure construction projects to upgrade existing and develop new schools, correctional facilities, hospitals and sporting facilities. This included the delivery of over 60 school projects to facilitate the move of Year 7 students into high school from the start of the 2022 school year.

Our transport infrastructure planning staff continued to undertake the necessary planning work required to ensure high-priority projects and programs are shovel-ready for delivery and completed a detailed submission on a new initiative for Adelaide Inner Ring Route capacity improvements for inclusion on the Infrastructure Australia Infrastructure Priority List.

Intense rain events and subsequent flooding in early 2022, across the Eyre Peninsula and the north of the State caused extensive damage to large sections of the sealed and unsealed road network, resulting in extensive road closures. The Department and its contractors worked together under difficult conditions to repair and reopen key rural arterial and outback roads, reconnecting communities and restoring freight movement of essential supplies across the nation.

The challenges of COVID-19 continued throughout the year, with impacts on the availability of materials, availability of public transport drivers and staffing at Service SA centres. The Department took a collaborative and flexible approach to overcome these challenges and continues to progress projects and deliver essential services for our customers.

The Department finalised a new contract with SeaLink to continue to run ferry services between the mainland and Kangaroo Island until at least 2039. As part of the new arrangement, SeaLink agreed to reduce fares for Kangaroo Island residents, increase services and deliver two new modern larger vessels.

The Reform of Across Government Facilities Management Arrangements was completed, with the new arrangements coming into effect on 1 December 2021.  Under these arrangements, Ventia coordinates maintenance and repairs at government assets like hospitals, schools and prisons.

The Department delivered a range of projects and initiatives to make public and passenger transport more convenient and accessible for South Australians. These included completing the construction of the Golden Grove Park ‘n’ Ride and expanding the metropolitan boundary for point-to-point passenger transport services, so they could operate in the Adelaide Hills and Mount Barker Council regions.

The Department implemented changes to reduce the time people with a disability need to wait for an access taxi, including better incentives and a stronger regulatory framework, and progressed the driver trainer industry reform program by undertaking broad-ranging consultation and preparing legislation for Parliament aimed at providing greater accountability, compliance activities and improving the safety of novice drivers.

The new online learner driver education program myLs launched online in October 2021, providing a better introduction to the roads for novice drivers. Designed to improve learner driver education, the myLs course focuses on road rules, road safety, and driver attitudes and behaviours, giving new drivers the best possible start before they get behind the wheel. Additionally, the range of Service SA transactions that can be completed online was extended and improvements were made to the online customer service, while selected Service SA centres were refurbished.

Changes were also introduced to South Australia’s motorcycle Graduated Licensing Scheme in November 2021, to improve rider safety, including raising the minimum age for a learner’s permit and R-Date licence by two years and introducing a blood alcohol content penalty for R-Date licence (or less) holders.

The Department also released a new Road Safety Strategy to 2031, setting important 10-year targets, including halving fatalities and reducing serious injuries by 30 per cent. The Road Safety Infrastructure Program continued to provide funding for upgrades to regional roads to achieve a minimum Three Star Safety rating. Work is continuing along a number of regional road corridors, including the Sturt, Horrocks, Spencer, and Eyre highways.

The Department also marked some key internal agency milestones in 2021-2022.

In March 2022, the Department was proud to release its new Stretch Reconciliation Action Plan, providing a new set of actions, targets and measures that will guide the way forward over the next three years of our reconciliation journey. Developed by the Department’s Reconciliation Action Committee in consultation with Reconciliation SA, the plan includes key actions around employment, training, procurement processes, creating culturally appropriate and inclusive events, investing in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses, and working with partners to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in our projects. We were also one of several agencies partnering with the Department of Treasury and Finance to run a reconciliation film event during National Reconciliation Week.

Following the State Election in March 2022, the Department worked to support the transition to the new State Government, including the establishment of our three new Ministers’ offices. This included working quickly to start the planning and delivery of a number of new major projects and reforms resulting from election commitments, and we look forward to progressing these further in the coming year.

These include the transition of train and tram services back to public operation, free public transport for Seniors all day, every day and the review into key elements of the Torrens to Darlington Project, the most significant road infrastructure project in the State’s history which will complete the final section of the 78-kilometre North-South Corridor.

I’d like to thank the Department’s staff and our partners for their hard work to make these achievements possible, despite the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic. We are committed to supporting the continued growth of the South Australian economy and the social wellbeing of our communities by delivering the essential services and infrastructure they need to keep moving.

Jon Whelan

Chief Executive

Department for Infrastructure and Transport