The State Government’s $160 million O’Bahn project needs a re-think. If not scrapped altogether, at least serious re-scoping is required.

Is it worth spending that amount of money to take just four minutes off a bus trip to town?

Saving four minutes when riding on the O’Bahn is nice. I accept that, especially for the 22,000 people who use it every day. But surely we can do better.

How do we justify $160 million, if we can only identify savings of four minutes off a bus trip?

There are no benefits to be gained by motorists or freight operators.

The efficient movement of an ever-increasing number of cars on the road should be a serious consideration in any transport development.

And conventional wisdom on road infrastructure is that there is huge benefit for the community if freight transport is assisted. That is why the South Road redevelopment stacks up. Projects that benefit the movement of freight provide commercial wins and are easier to justify.

Instead, extensive O’Bahn construction works at the Hackney Road/North Terrace intersection will impact everyone – cars, freight and public transport - for the best part of two years.

The State Government is yet to enter into a binding agreement to deliver the O’Bahn. So I assume the $160 million of capital expenditure hasn’t been spent and is still largely in the State’s bank, as shown in the budget papers.

Re-considering the merits of the O’Bahn redevelopment shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. Governments are comfortable changing their minds all the time.

Remember the Gawler rail line electrification that was scrapped? Even this O'Bahn project was announced and scrapped previously. And we know there is debate about whether the Feds are walking away from the pre-election commitments to have submarines built in South Australia.

Such government flip-flopping should be used by the public as an opportunity to have a stronger say on what they would like delivered.

Our construction industry in South Australia desperately needs work. Capital projects are needed. But let us ensure we are picking the right ones: the projects that give the best return for South Australians, not just pander to marginal seats.

Consider also how we can maximize the benefits for South Australians companies. A large project undertaken by one big company may give us good results, but a number of smaller projects for instance may help to keep more people in work.

A rethink is required. If four minutes is the best that can be achieved, there may be other projects that can make better use of the money.



What: Busway extension via a tunnel below Hackney Road into the CBD

Cost: $160 million

Time: 2014 – 2017

Benefits: Time saving of 4 minutes for over 22,000 people daily, and jobs during construction.



 What: Electrification of the Gawler line from Adelaide to Dry Creek, Salisbury and possibly Elizabeth

Cost: Approx. $160 million

Time: 1 year

Benefits: Makes use of $45 million infrastructure already in place, allows electric trains to access rail car depot without being towed, provides cleaner, quieter and more efficient train services for rail patrons on the northern line daily, enables all new electric trains to be put into useful service, and jobs during construction.


What: Seal the Strezlecki Track from Lyndhurst to Innaminka

Cost: A State Government incentive of $50 million to encourage private sector and seek commonwealth funding for the remaining $400 million

Time: 2 years

Benefits: Will provide all weather access to encourage new oil and gas projects in the Cooper Basin, with access to Adelaide and will boost the state’s service sector and provide jobs during construction.


What: Handling Infrastructure and transport improvements for grain and mining industries

Cost: A State Government incentive of $100 million to encourage private sector and the commonwealth to fund the remaining $400-$500 million.

Time: 3 years

Benefits: Will provide immediate environmental and economic benefits for mining activities, efficient storage and logistics for farmers, and critical infrastructure and capacity to encourage private sector investment and growth in regional SA.


What: Upgrade to regional tourism attractions Kangaroo Island and Port Lincoln.

Cost: Up to approx. $50 million

Time: 1 year

Benefits: Provide further capacity for more frequent and larger aircraft, which will allow for domestic and international tourism growth, flow on benefits for regional communities, and jobs during construction.


What: Implement a new State stimulus spend plan for industry in SA. Say up to $5 million per hospital in regional SA.

Cost: Up to approx. $100 million

Time: 2 years

Benefits: Provide further capacity, improved conditions or access to later technologies at regional strategically located hospitals.


What: Upgrade of Memorial Drive tennis centre

Cost: Up to approx. $110 million

Time: 1 year

Benefits: Bring our home of tennis inline with tennis Federation Competition standards, help Tennis SA secure another national / international event, and provide integration with Adelaide Oval, in terms of amenity and shared facilities.


What: Provide a compulsory stopping bay for all trucks heading into Adelaide on the South Eastern Freeway

Cost: Up to approx. $150 million, but should attract significant Commonwealth support

Time: 1 year

Benefits: Address safety issues on the freeway down track and the potential is for lives to be saved.


The opinions expressed in this article are Rod Hook’s alone, and do not reflect the opinions of Rod Hook and Associates Pty Ltd or any employee and associate thereof. Rod Hook and Associates Pty Ltd is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied in this article.