South Australian taxpayers will not have to fork out for “shoddy work” on the new $620 million Darlington Upgrade, after two sections of spray-on concrete crumbled on the lowered motorway in as many days.
- Three experts will be flown in from interstate to assess the damage
- The damage is being attributed to the first heavy rainfall in Adelaide for 2019
- Traffic will be restricted in the area while the damage is fixed
Transport Minister Stephan Knoll said three experts would be flown in to Adelaide from across the country to make independent assessments of the damage and determine the “root cause of this issue”.
“What we’ve got is an issue with a 220-metre section of the lowered motorway on the southern side — that is the area we need to look at to get fixed,” he said.
But he said other sections of the project were being assessed and so far, no issues had been found.
“This is nothing to do with the shotcrete [spray-on concrete] that was put on the side of that embankment — that shotcrete does not provide any structural reinforcement,” he said.
“What we’ve really got an issue with here is water is getting in behind that concrete wall, saturating the soil and causing that soil to move.
“That’s the issue we’ve got to solve.”
Mr Knoll said he has had a series of meetings with department staff and contractors about the “unacceptable situation” at the Darlington lowered motorway.
“We have seen further falling of shotcrete overnight and that relates to the same issue that we saw happen over the last couple of days,” he said.
“It’s really too early to understand where the heart of who’s at fault lies.
“But taxpayers will be protected to the greatest extent possible as a result of this — we cannot have a situation where taxpayers are footing the bill for shoddy work.”
Project will still be completed by end of year
Mr Knoll said work would continue on other sections of the project and he did not expect it to delay the entire rollout.
The Darlington Upgrade was originally due to be completed in 2018 but is now expected to be finished by the end of this year.
Yesterday, the first section fell after rain damaged concrete installed as part of the project to turn part of Main South Road into a motorway.
Adelaide had its driest first four months of the year since records began, followed by 24 millimetres of rain in the first four days of May.
South Australia’s Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) said only three southbound lanes of Main South Road at Bedford Park between Sturt Road and Flinders Drive would be open during peak hours, and two during interpeak periods, while the problem was fixed.
Since the start of the year, both the Liberal and Labor parties have promised billions of dollars to complete the North-South Corridor project to turn the rest of South Road from Tonsley to the River Torrens into a motorway.
The area is in the state’s most marginal seat of Boothby.
Opposition transport spokesman Tom Koutsantonis called for an independent audit of the project.
Contaminated cement was used during construction work on the Darlington Upgrade project in 2017.