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Northern Connector, an integrated road and rail project

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Synopsis: Dual use road and rail corridor linking Northern Expressway with Port River Expressway and South Road

Status: Unfunded – detailed planning (Project Impact Report released July 2011)

The Northern Connector, a proposed new freight rail line and multi-laned motorway, is a critical component of Adelaide’s north–south corridor that links major transport routes and enables an all but unimpeded journey from Port Wakefield, the mid north, the Barossa Valley and the Riverland to the Port of Adelaide or the length of the corridor, to Old Noarlunga.

The 31 kilometre train track will be used by freight trains as well as the Ghan and Indian Pacific, and connect with the existing rail line at Kings Road, Virginia and the Outer Harbor line at Dry Creek. Four rail bridges will separate rail freight travelling up to 115 kilometres per hour from road vehicles.

This national freight rail line will link with the existing freight network and make a more efficient north–south link for Perth to Melbourne journeys.

The rail track will sit alongside the new 15 kilometre long road.

The road, to the west of Port Wakefield Road, will extend from the new Northern Expressway interchange with Port Wakefield Road at Waterloo Corner to the Port River Expressway and South Road Superway interchange at Wingfield.

With three lanes in each direction, a posted speed limit of 110 kilometres per hour and four road interchanges, this motorway will serve as a new national road link better connecting Adelaide with Perth, Darwin, Sydney, the Riverland, Barossa Valley and Sunraysia.

The Northern Connector will be raised on an embankment to protect the area from flood while detention basins and swales with extensive plantings will improve the area’s water management.

The project will also provide a three metre wide 16 kilometre path for cyclists and pedestrians that will connect with the Northern Expressway’s existing 23 kilometre path.

The Northern Connector will meet the forecast traffic volumes from the north, currently reliant on Port Wakefield Road. In the long term, this project will remove freight trains from suburban lines and level crossings, including Park Terrace and Kings Road at Salisbury, as well as reduce travel times from the Port of Adelaide to Adelaide’s north.

The preferred route solution meets targets in South Australia’s Strategic Plan and growth forecasts outlined in the 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide. This project is also listed as a Threshold project by Infrastructure Australia given the role the route will play in the national movement of goods and people.

The Northern Connector will enable regional growth and economic sustainability, more efficient road and rail travel, improved safety and be an environmentally sustainable step forward. When funded, it will take around three years to build.

Ahead of securing funding, the department is progressing planning. The July 2011 release of the Project’s Impact Report is a key planning milestone that will determine the scale and location for the road and rail line enabling required land to be identified until such time the project is funded.

When the Northern Connector is finished and open to traffic, Port Wakefield Road will again be an arterial road serving the industrial and commercial sectors within the City of Salisbury with the myriad of businesses along the road benefiting from improved traffic flow plus better access to road and rail freight shipment.