South Australia is banking on infrastructure as a means to boost its economy and employment, as the state pumps billions into public asset investment in 2017.

The government says it is spending a record $12.1 billion on public infrastructure projects this year, including $1.5 billion in commencement of new works.

Major new projects to commence this year include the Torrens Rail Junction and Mike Turtur Bikeway overpass ($238 million), the $220 million redevelopment of Festival Plaza, the $152 million Gawler electrification project and the $85.5 million Flinders Link extension.

Located where the interstate railway crosses the Outer Harbour Railway in Park Lands between Port Road, Thebarton and War Memorial Drive in Adelaide North, Torrens Rail Junction and Mike Turtur Bikeway overpass project involves grade separation by lowering the Outer Harbour rail line, elimination of a number of rail crossings, a new Bowden rail station, shared pedestrian and bike paths as well as improvements to the Mike Turtur Bikeway.

Benefits will include greater productivity on the Melbourne-Adelaide-Perth line as well as greater traffic flows through the level crossing removal.

The Festival Plaza upgrade, meanwhile, will deliver an upgraded promenade with wider pathways and improved theatre connections, a new square which will be used for gatherings and events and a redesign of Station Road to transform this area into a picturesque north-south boulevard.

The upgrades come as South Australia pins its hopes upon infrastructure investment to boost the economy and lift employment rates.

Whilst the state’s economy has lifted somewhat of late and the labour market has improved, the state’s jobless rate of 6.4 percent remains above the national average of 5.7 percent.

As well as $1.5 billion in new projects, the state also has around 130 existing projects underway.

This include $1.6 billion in water infrastructure, $985 million on the Northern Connector project and $896 million on the Torrens Road to River Torrens upgrade.

Referring to the investment as a ‘once-in-a-generation’ phenomenon, the government said the investments would deliver better roads, schools, light rail and hospitals which were needed by the state.

Around 1,300 jobs will be created as a result of projects beginning in 2017, the state says.