Coronavirus not expected to delay Portrush Road upgrade, residents could face 'eviction'

Coronavirus restrictions are not expected to delay plans to demolish 47 households and businesses in Adelaide’s inner-east, despite some affected residents not having a home to move into yet.

Key points:

  • Home occupants say they have until June to vacate their properties for demolition
  • The Transport Minister says coronavirus complications should not affect the project’s timeline
  • The intersection is to be widened to benefit more than 60,000 motorists a day

The buildings are being compulsorily acquired to make way for a £98 million intersection upgrade at Portrush and Magill roads, with occupants saying they had been warned to leave by June or be evicted. Homeowners responded by hanging protest banners and signs on their fences pleading for Premier Steven Marshall to save them. Vivian Loo told ABC Radio Adelaide the “heartbreaking” project meant she would lose her 110-year-old villa.

Coronavirus not expected to delay Portrush Road upgrade, residents could face 'eviction'

She said the money offered by the Government for her property was “way below what was expected” and she remained without a new address.

“We were first informed by [Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure] in November that our home was being acquired, but with the processes and everything that’s going on, we are no closer to getting there,” Ms Loo said.

“We have actually asked DPTI officials what will happen if we don’t actually have time to find a new home and move out, and they said: ‘We would evict you.’

“That was the exact words they said to us.”

Pandemic ‘should delay project’

Opposition transport spokesman Tom Koutsantonis said if the Government could not guarantee residents found a new home “in the middle of a pandemic that is sweeping not only the nation, but the world“, then the project should be delayed. “You can’t have people trying to find a house when open inspections might be closed or shut down nationally at some stage, as other countries have done,” he said.

“I’m not sure the Minister has actually thought this through.”

Transport Minister Stephan Knoll, however, said this was an “extremist” view and that the Government was moving forward in a “logical and compassionate way”. “I haven’t had any advice about the fact that we aren’t going to be able to complete these transactions in a timely way,” he said.

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Asked repeatedly if the evictions would go ahead in June, Mr Knoll said the Government was trying to give people as much help and time as possible, but his expectation was that “everyone will have arrangements finalised well before that time”.

“There does come a point, though, when the project needs to move ahead.”

City bypass out of sight

The upgrade is a joint venture with the Commonwealth and involves the installation of several dual turning lanes, three through-lanes on both sides of Portrush Road, and two through-lanes on Magill Road heading east over the intersection.

Portrush Road is considered a freight link between the South Eastern Freeway and northern routes, such as the Sturt Highway and National Highway M1, and permits the usage of B-double trucks.

Coronavirus not expected to delay Portrush Road upgrade, residents could face 'eviction'

But City of Norwood, Payneham & St Peters councillor Scott Simms said freight needed to be moved away from the city and called for a freight bypass to be built — a proposal considered several times over many decades by different governments. It was most recently revised by the Government while in opposition ahead of the 2018 election in the form of a non-stop freight bypass between Murray Bridge and Outer Harbour, but Cr Simms said the project had been “cancelled”. “We’ll have a wider intersection here, but it just pushes the traffic down to The Parade and down to Payneham Road,” he said.

“The council’s unanimously opposed it, I haven’t seen a single person who wants it, and the Government hasn’t provided a decent cost-benefit analysis that actually shows the benefit of the project, other than a possible 60-second saving in travelling time.”

Coronavirus not expected to delay Portrush Road upgrade, residents could face 'eviction'

Motorists vs residents

Mr Knoll said the Portrush and Magill roads intersection was about “balancing the needs of 60,000-plus motorists who use that intersection every day, versus the local residents whose homes are being acquired”.

“We’ve been involved with this for six months already and we are working through it as sympathetically as possible.” He said it was projects such as this — one of several planned across the city — which would help stimulate the economy during the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. The upgrade of the Goodwood, Springbank and Daws roads intersection also involved several compulsory acquisitions, including that of much-loved family business Peter Van The Party Man — now closed for good.

The City of Norwood, Payneham & St Peters is also unhappy about a proposal 700 metres south of the Magill Road intersection where Peregrine Corporation has proposed to build a private helipad atop a planned seven-storey redevelopment of its head office on Portrush Road.

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Coronavirus not expected to delay Portrush Road upgrade, residents could face 'eviction'

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