Is Cross Road earmarked as a freight route? That is what many people are asking. Others are convinced that Cross Road IS earmarked for a freight route.
These conflicting but compatible concerns prompted a public meeting on the future of Cross Road. The meeting was co-hosted last week by Mitcham Historical Society & Mitcham Plains Action Group at Scotch College.
It was a constructive and well-attended forum. The forum presented conflicting messages, however.
For residents of the Clarence Park ward of the City of Unley, this follows on from the recent release of the reference design for the North-South Corridor. What they heard was that Cross Road is being considered as a 6-lane highway. Further, they fear property acquisitions that this would create.
Several came away feeling a proposed road by-pass through Truro would save Cross Road, the Emerson Crossing and avoid an increase in the traffic entering the north-south corridor. On the other hand, others came away believing the Government is fully intent on making Cross Road a designated freight route.
Both groups were justified in leaving with the impression held. But how can that be you might ask? Here’s why!
One message I heard from the speakers is that the Government is seriously considering a by-pass from Murray Bridge to Truro. One leg of the old GlobeLink plan they bought to the previous State Election. Maybe a road bypass only will be viable, unlike the original road, rail, airport plan.
Whilst any bypass would be a longer route it will be able to take B-Triples (or road trains). Something that the Freeway (which can only take B-Doubles) cannot accommodate. It was suggested that the transport industry would seriously consider using the bypass because it would be more fuel-efficient. They would therefore avoid the excessive fuel consumption required to traverse the Adelaide Hills. We were told that 30% of freight would likely be diverted via the bypass.
I heard also however of an increasing economic pressure on the trucking industry to provide the goods to Adelaide. That freight movement was likely to increase some 20-30% in the next 20 years.
Notwithstanding a Bypass being built I heard that, with the advent of an 80kph nonstop north-south corridor, the transport industry will be tempted to divert this extra traffic from taking goods down Portrush and Glen Osmond Roads to Cross Road and link into the north-south corridor.
So! What does this mean? Is Cross Road earmarked as a freight route or not?
It means that the bypass is an absolute necessity. Likewise, probably it means that whatever the Government (whoever that may be after March next year) may or may not do with a bypass, Cross Road is likely to see increased freight traffic. It probably also means therefore that we will need more than just the bypass to protect Cross Road.
I have asked the local Liberal member for Elder, Carolyn Power, to confirm that the business case for the bypass has been completed. Likewise, I have asked her if the project has been included in the forward estimates and that what they are working on now is the concept design.
I have also asked the Labor candidate for Elder, Nadia Clancy, what her party is proposing to address this very real issue. Are they in favour of the bypass, or are they happy to make Cross Road a freight route?
I await both their answers and hope to catch up with both in the very near future.