The Government of South Australia is set to launch a tender process for the maintenance of the state’s entire 23,000km road network, comprising 14,000km of sealed and 9,000km of unsealed roads.

Presently, around 60% of the annual road maintenance budget is delivered by industry through external contracts.

The road network is owned by the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI).

Extending its 20-year industry collaboration, the state government has decided to modernise South Australia’s road network, which is likely to save taxpayers up to A$9m ($6.46m) per annum from 2021-22.

State treasurer Rob Lucas said: “By partnering with industry, we will be able to keep pace with increasing demands of maintaining South Australia’s road network.

“The state government wants to continue to improve South Australia’s roads and by further capitalising on the expertise and efficiency of industry we can better achieve that goal.”

“A key priority is to provide road users with reliable networks to ensure efficient and safe journeys.”

The government plans to divide the state’s roads into four zones, which are Adelaide metropolitan, Regional South, Regional North and Outback.

Similar road types will be grouped together within these four zones in a bid to ensure improved efficiency for potential contractors and help save taxpayer money.

Lucas added: “A key priority is to provide road users with reliable networks to ensure efficient and safe journeys, and the government intends to work with contractors to deliver improved services with greater innovation.”

He also stated that the opening of road maintenance work through a competitive tendering process will also attract new investment, support local employment and local industries.

The winning firm will be required to issue sub-contracts to local small and medium businesses.

At the outset, contracts will be awarded for a period of seven years, with an option to renew these for a further six years provided the contractors meet agreed performance standards.

The tender process is expected to begin later this month and the contract award is scheduled to be completed by mid-2020.