Greg Barila

Journalist. Editor. Social Media specialist.

We're building this city

Construction workers in Victoria Square. Source: News Corp. Australia

"NICE town you've got here. Can't wait to see it when it's finished!"
This must be what the tourists are thinking, surely?
If you've left your house at any time at all in the past two years, you'll know that Adelaide isn't so much a city right now as a dirty big work-in-progress.
They're digging up the square, transplanting the Mall's balls, slinging pipes down every second road, slapping bridges over the river and building the Starship Enterprise over South Road at Regency Park.
And that isn't the half of it.
Down south, they're carving a great superhighway, a second lane for our world-famous expressway, out of virgin tracts of countryside, while spring lambs and twittering birds scurry from diesel smoke and bulldozer tyres.
If Adelaide were a wounded soldier, they'd be operating on the head, heart, legs and arms all at once and the chief surgeon would be working with a hacksaw and a cigarette dangling from his lips.
Virtually there's not a corner of the city that's been left unmolested by road gangs and building crews.
When the roads get gummed up enough with irate drivers, I often wonder if the government shouldn't just put a giant witches hat over everything from Two Wells to Sellicks Beach and declare the whole joint a Building Site.
The only problem is the "Building Better Witches Hats" program would take at least two years and $4 million in the feasibility stage.
And anyway, that's to miss the bigger point, which is that while our city at the moment fairly looks like a teenager's bedroom, and while the vast grid of road and building works will be a major irritation for years to come, there is a sense that things in Adelaide, finally, are moving.
That peak hour delays and diversions are the growing pains of a city growing up - and growing out - and that the inconvenience will all be worth it, in the long run.
In actual fact, Adelaide is a city playing catch up; a city belatedly investing in much-needed infrastructure and half-decent public transport, after more than a decade of virtually unchecked urban sprawl.
Cripes, we're even talking about toll roads now!
And while I'm not sure that's a road down which we want to go, the fact we're even having the debate is a sign Adelaide is maturing.
I could feel it coming a year ago when I returned to Adelaide after 14 months in the US and found a small forest of cranes on the skyline, at least a half dozen new buildings and a wave of hip new bars, burger joints and lively laneways.
For that the City Council and State Government deserve a bit of credit.
It's not New York, but bit by bit, Adelaide is starting to feel like an actual city. And I can't wait to see it when it's finished.
This column was first published in The City Messenger and on advertiser.com.au