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DIT wouldn’t do it, so ratepayers paid $24,000 for Princes Highway spruce-up
The state of the median strip at Tailem Bend has long been a source of frustration for locals. Now they’ve had to pay for it – but a solution could be in sight.
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Coorong ratepayers had to fork out almost $24,000 to make the Princes Highway median strip look pretty in time for the Governor’s visit in August, the district council has revealed.
The state Department for Infrastructure and Transport is responsible for keeping the highway tidy, but has often failed to do so, to the frustration of local residents.
The Coorong council specifically requested a tidy-up in mid-July, ahead of the OTR Super Sprint and a visit from Governor Frances Adamson, occasions on which the eyes of the state would turn towards Tailem.
But according to the council, DIT said that wouldn’t be possible.
So council staff had to pick up the slack, and ratepayers picked up the tab: $18,000 for maintenance work and $4500 for traffic control.
Councillor Jeff Arthur, who raised the issue at the council’s September meeting, said he’d had more phone calls about the tidy-up than any other issue during his years in office.
The work had been done well, he said, and had stopped Tailem looking “like an outback town”.
But locals knew that the state government should have paid for it.
Council eyes a long-term solution
The promising news is that DIT’s shortcomings may soon fade into the rear vision mirror.
The council has approached the government about re-purposing $500,000 worth of road funding to upgrade a section of the highway corridor through Tailem Bend.
The funding had previously been earmarked for upgrades to 13 intersections around the district, but CEO Bridget Mather said that project had fallen through.
Rather than handing the money back, the council proposed an alternative idea.
It would like to combine the state Local Government Infrastructure Partnership Program funding with $400,000 from the federal Local Roads and Infrastructure Partnership Program – yes, they are two different initiatives – to spruce up the highway through town.
If funding were secured, the council would go ahead and draw up concept plans to be shared with ratepayers before making any final decision.
At last month’s meeting, Cr Arthur expressed concern about the council spending money on what was essentially a state-owned asset.
“I don’t believe ratepayers should be having to pay for something that’s not their property,” he said.
But Cr Mick O’Hara suggested it could be money well spent.
“They (DIT) are not doing it, so we’ve got to take some pride in our town … in the presentation of Tailem Bend,” he said.
“I’m sure nine out of 10 ratepayers would feel the same way.”