Joined: 02 May 2006
|Posted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 11:49 pm Post subject: Paved With Taxes
|Paved with taxes
October 23, 2006 12:00am
Article from: The Courier-Mail
IT has been ranked as Australia's most expensive road. Only six months into construction, every metre of the 7.5km Tugun bypass on the Gold Coast is costing taxpayers $72,800.
That adds up to the cost of a southeast Queensland home for every four metres.
And the figure will rise if there are any more hold-ups to the long-awaited highway designed to cut the bottleneck at the southern end of the M1.
The extraordinary cost, revealed in the annual report of the Transport and Regional Services Department, has cast doubt on the State Government's ability to manage road projects and keep costs to a minimum.
Federal bureaucrats plan to audit the Ipswich-Logan Interchange. Its construction cost has blown out from $160 million to $255 million.
The Tugun bypass, first mooted eight years ago, has been hampered by rising construction costs and environmental conditions. Its cost is now expected to be $546 million, $28 million more than an estimate made at the start of this year.
At $73 million a kilometre, it is the most expensive road ever built in Australia.
State Transport Minister Paul Lucas said the Tugun bypass was worth the expense and blamed any delays and cost overruns on the Commonwealth.
"I have made no secret of the fact it is a very expensive road," Mr Lucas said.
"It is a road essentially built through a swamp, including a tunnel that has to go under an airport runway. It is a very challenging engineering environment. When you look at the economic benefits it will bring, not only to Queensland and the Gold Coast, but northern NSW, it is an investment well made."
Work on the four-lane bypass linking Currumbin and the NSW border started in March.
The bypass is expected to cut travel times between Currumbin and the NSW border to about five minutes.
The State Government has also been under fire since Brisbane traffic was thrown into chaos with the discovery of hairline fractures in Riverside Expressway ramps.
Federal Liberal MP Cameron Thompson said there had to be tighter scrutiny of State Government road projects.
"Time and time again they are putting up projects that just don't add up," Mr Thompson said. "It is time we treated them with more scepticism."
He said the $100 million blowout on the Ipswich-Logan Interchange was an example of the State Government's incompetence.
"We are too trusting of the states and their antics," Mr Thompson said.
"In the past we have merely accepted at face value the types of projects they have put forward.
"But we have been stung once too often on these things."
About $50 million has been added to the cost of the Tugun bypass by strict environmental conditions that have been imposed by the NSW State Government.
NSW has placed about 50 environmental conditions on the project to protect endangered plants and animals, including a rare frog.
The Federal Government has also imposed strict guidelines that are designed to minimise the impact on flora and fauna.
The Commonwealth demands are also designed to protect the Cobaki Broadwater.
In addition the State Government must provide a "compensatory habitat" package of more than 80ha of land.
As well, a 340m tunnel and a total of almost 600m in approach ramps are expected to cost $200 million.
Another $13 million has been set aside for works necessary for the proposed rail link between Robina and the Gold Coast Airport.
Mr Lucas said critical tunnelling work for the bypass was almost complete.
"It (the construction) is certainly on track and going well," he said.
"And I am told it is on target in terms of cost."
The Federal Government is contributing $120 million to the bypass. The rest of the cost is being picked up by Queensland taxpayers.
The Tugun bypass is not expected to be finished until Christmas 2008.
CESARE LOMBROSO "The ignorant man always adores what he cannot understand"
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