The Liberals will consider building an airport at Monarto if they win government in 2018, Opposition Leader Steven Marshall has announced.
The Liberals' plan, branded "Globelink", calls for include construction of a 24-hour freight transfer facility and airport at Monarto, plus a rail and road bypass running north of the Adelaide Hills and on to Port Adelaide.
The airport would be built south of the Monarto freeway interchange and west of Ferries-McDonald Road.
Directing trucks and trains from there to Port Adelaide via a new route would reduce traffic on the South Eastern Freeway and main roads in Adelaide, as well as reducing noise and the risk of bushfire for Hills residents living near the railway line.
But the number-one argument for such a project, Mr Marshall said, was economic.
"A generational upgrade of our freight export infrastructure is needed to provide our companies with the competitive advantage they need to get our premium South Australian products to markets across the globe," he said.
"SA's share of national merchandise exports has shrunk from 7.3 per cent to 4.3pc over the past 15 years.
"We need to leverage our competitive advantages as a state to boost exports, grow our economy and create jobs."
Member for Hammond Adrian Pederick said the project had his full support because of the "enormous" employment opportunities it would provide.
Federal MP Tony Pasin described it as “very exciting” for the Murraylands’ food producers and the state.
But Zoos SA CEO Elaine Bensted was less enthusiastic about the prospect of an airport only a few kilometres from Monarto Zoo.
“We’re all for the development of the area, but … we breed critically endangered animals and want to offer an experience to our visitors,” she said.
“Aircraft flying overhead doesn’t really add to the ambiance of what we’re trying to create.”
The Liberals have committed to spending $20 million developing the idea if they win government in 2018.