SA-BEST calls on State Government to fund pre-feasibility study

Bold plans to build a multi-billion-dollar bridge to Kangaroo Island from the mainland of South Australia were unveiled today by a consortium of South Australian businesses and endorsed by SA-BEST MLC, Frank Pangallo.

The four-lane carriageway proposed by the Universal Bridging Consortium would have a length of about 14 kilometres and be built across Backstairs Passage at the most appropriate points between the mainland and the island.

Critically, the bridge’s construction would include key infrastructure to pipe vital fresh water to the island from the mainland, as well as a potential renewable energy component that could take advantage of well documented tidal energy in the region to supply power to the surrounding communities.

Freight costs to and from the island would be significantly reduced providing much-needed financial relief for locals, businesses and the farming sector.

The Universal Bridging Consortium consists of local businesses and strategic thinkers John Noonan, Jason Semanic and Sean Pickersgill, in collaboration with companies such as Lucid Consulting Australia.

Consortium leader, John Noonan, has participated in the planning and execution phases of some of Australia’s and the world’s largest civilian and Defence megaprojects. He works with megaproject owner teams through JNC Pty Ltd and his vision initiated the KI Bridge megaproject. Jason Semanic has experience with some of Australia’s top architectural practices in the design and delivery of large scale infrastructure projects. He owns and directs his own design practice, The Space Laboratory, and designed the proposed KI bridge.

Lucid Consulting Australia has previously completed feasibility studies for potential hotel developments – including engineering assessments of electrical, water, sewage, and emergency services infrastructure – on the island.

Lucid CEO Anthony Di Marzo said: “It is clear from our previous studies that the infrastructure, transport costs for goods and services, and travel costs for tourists are all factors which impact the business case for development on Kangaroo Island. A bridge would open up exciting opportunities and it is a project Lucid are excited to be involved with from inception.”

Frank today hailed the megaproject as a “nation builder” that will ensure Kangaroo Island reaches its full potential and becomes Australia’s number one tourist destination.

“This shouldn’t be dismissed as a pie-in-the-sky idea by the usual naysayers,” Frank said.

“I am hoping Premier Steven Marshall and his government seriously view this project for the value it would bring and realise the enormous potential it would have for South Australia’s economy,” he said.

“A megaproject of this magnitude will take significant time to prepare and approve, but SA needs to start thinking and acting big now.

“The state needs to start doing things that will not only set us apart from the rest of the country, but also seize upon the opportunities that exist nowhere else in the world. This bridge itself would become an instant attraction and be one of the modern wonders of the world.

“South Australia is in a great position to cement itself as a major global tourist destination by connecting Kangaroo Island to the mainland.

“Starting from the name itself, KI offers amazing and exclusive experiences from rugged natural landscapes, unique wildlife and flora and incredible beaches to breathtaking ocean experiences, culinary attractions, local food produce and specialist beverages.

“No other place in Australia provides all this in one desirable location that can easily be reached from a major capital city within a few hours and explored over a matter of days.

“Yet KI is still largely a secret – even to the 70% of South Australians who haven’t visited.

“Getting to KI, first by road and then by a costly ferry ride puts people off. KI’s isolation and lack of sustainable water supply is also hindering major investment opportunities, including luxury hotels.”

The Universal Bridging Consortium estimates the bridge would cost in the order of $4-$5 Billion and could be funded by a Public-Private Partnership (PPP), with some costs offset by charging a toll at a significantly reduced rate compared to current SeaLink ferry prices, which are among the most expensive per kilometre in the world.

The consortium partners today called on the State Government to make an appropriate financial commitment of about $100,000 to commence a pre-feasibility study.

“A bridge to Kangaroo Island has the potential to be a nation building project,” Jason said.

“To borrow a phrase ‘build it and they will come’ has never been truer with the project we are proposing,” he said.

“It will lead to the transformation of the Island – local Adelaide residents will travel there for the day, like they do to Victor Harbor or the Barossa, something they don’t do now because of the expense and time-consuming complexities involved in getting there.

“There is obviously a myriad of economic and environmental considerations involved in a project of this magnitude, but they will also be identified and addressed in the proposed pre-feasibility study.”

Lucid Consulting Australia is familiar with some of the island’s unique characteristics which make it so precious and consider protection of the environment, wildlife and sea-life to be a top priority.

“We will team with local and global specialists to ensure that the pre-feasibility study identifies all potential risks to the island, coastal mainland, and surrounding seas, so that the project can be considered holistically, and risks suitably addressed,” Anthony said.

The preferred option for the bridge’s design is modelled on Greece’s famed Rio-Antirron Bridge – regarded as one of the world’s longest multi-span cable-stayed bridges. Significantly, longer bridges have been built in China with one recently finished spanning 165 kilometres including both road and rail transport.

Early planning for the proposed KI bridge involves 400-metre-long cable-stayed spans.

Under the proposal, the bridge will be built south of Cape Jervis on the Fleurieu Peninsula, and land south-east of Penneshaw.

Crucially, the Bridge will reduce travelling time to and from the island from about 1.5 hours in total (including pre-registration and boarding the ferry) to about 15 minutes.

Reports have highlighted that seas surrounding KI are both its greatest asset and enduring burden. Statistics show that the Fleurieu Peninsula benefits from overnight tourism at more than 100 times the rate of KI, simply because of KI’s isolation due to lack of reliable and affordable accessibility.

About 205,000 people visit the island each year ploughing about $140 million into the local economy. By 2020, tourism expenditure is predicted to grow by 49% and visits by 33%. This year about 40 cruise ships will drop anchor there.

“Transport to and from the island comes at enormous cost not just for tourists but also locals, impacting on every aspect of their lives that people on the mainland take for granted,” Frank said.

“We encourage Premier Marshall to embrace the same foresight as one of his most famous predecessors, Sir Thomas Playford,” he said.

“During his 27-year tenure as SA Premier, Playford was widely condemned for his vision in building almost 10,000 kilometres of pipe network that took water from the River Murray to 90 per cent of the state – virtually making most of the state drought proof.

“I know Steven Marshall has a similar vision for a more prosperous SA heading into this century and this KI bridge would be a striking and shining symbol of that economic growth and the confidence that goes with it.

“What a legacy that would leave for the people of SA!”

For more information, please contact Sean Whittington on (0403) 995 730.


Kangaroo Island – the third largest Island in Australia and the one closest to a major urban city like Adelaide – is woefully isolated.

In a world in which real time connection and real time sharing of culture is important, Kangaroo Island is strangled in its isolation from the rest of South Australia, and the community of the greater Adelaide metropolitan area.

South Australians are separated from a land mass of rare and precious diversity that is an equal part of the social and economic identity of the State.

For the same reason the community on KI deserve to be part of the state in which they live, work and grow, SA needs a bridge between the mainland and Kangaroo Island.

We know what it is like not to have a bridge to KI. It means the Island is a place that South Australian’s travel to despite the cost and inconvenience.

KI is a place people struggle to engage with if they don’t have significant disposable income. SA welcomes the tourists that can afford to spend thousands of dollars to visit the island, we appreciate their desire to see a place of incredible natural beauty – but shouldn’t it be a place that all South Australians can share regardless of their financial position?

This has been the case ever since South Australia was founded in 1836. And initially on Kangaroo Island!

A bridge to KI is essential for growth and development of society in South Australia and Australia. It is not just about a safe and reliable way across Backstairs Passage, it’s about connectivity and community.

A bridge from the mainland to KI also reveals something about Australia’s creativity and ingenuity. It hints at our identity.

Without a bridge to KI, we have seen how the KI economy stagnates for lack of development and the local community struggles to get a fair go in terms of access to facilities most South Australians take for granted.

Realistically – by not addressing the need for a major change in access arrangements to KI means the people and economy of KI, even with the careful management of the most limited of resources, can only continue to suffer.

People living on the island are under an economic cloud and do not have access to what most South Australians take for granted, including appropriate education, medical care, and cost-effective access to national and international markets.

A bridge to KI is about the reality of mutual benefit because it is an investment in the KI community and an investment in the future of regional South Australia.

The opening of access to nearly 4500 square kilometres of farming land, pristine national parks and world-class tourist areas is a massive investment in the future of SA.

Kangaroo Island is larger than the Adelaide metropolitan area and the Fleurieu Peninsula combined.

A KI bridge will have an impact not only on the South Australian community but on the broader Australian community.

Only a two-hour car drive from Adelaide’s CBD, a bridge to KI will take a jewel in the crown of our State and bring it to the doorstep of all South Australians, all Australians, and indeed the world.