BYPASS BILL AT $245m
By GRAEME SINGLETON
ALMOST a decade after it was first promised, the money has been allocated and work will soon begin on the Bonville Bypass.
In Tuesday's State Budget, NSW Treasurer Michael Costa released $75 million for the project, but that sum is less than a third of what it will cost for the dual carriageway running from Perry's Road at Pine Creek to Lyons Road. The 9.6 kilometre bypass is now budgeted to cost a staggering $245 million ? that's more than $25.5 million a kilometre.
It is a figure that will have many wondering if the Bonville deviation will be paved with gold.
"It is absolutely unbelievable," was the response of longtime Bonville resident David Vaughn.
"I am so happy to hear the bypass is finally going to be built but the cost blowout just staggers me," Mr Vaughn said.
"If they'd gotten off their backsides years ago we'd not only have Bonville built by now, but for that money we'd probably have Sapphire to Woolgoolga fixed as well."
According to the member for Coffs Harbour, Andrew Fraser, in 1997 the bypass was costed at $85 million.
The project was shelved for seven years but last year, after a string of fatal accidents and under pressure from the community via the Coffs Coast Advocate, the bypass was revived.
Mr Fraser said that last August the cost was put at $153 million.
He added that only last month when Abrigroup was selected as the preferred tenderer the cost was put at $217 million.
"The government's delay has really seen costs soar for the Bonville Bypass," Mr Fraser said.
"These sorts of blowouts are why it is taking so long and so much extra money to complete the Pacific Highway upgrade."
A spokesman for NSW Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal wouldn't speculate on the costs blowout yesterday, but Mr Vaughn is in no doubt the tendering process is to blame.
"It would seem that there are only three major road builders and they seem to be able to set their own price," Mr Vaughn said.
"The tendering process itself is scandalous where companies can bid for a project and then nominate a price once they've won the tender.
"We the taxpayers are being well and truely screwed! Still its great to hear that work is about to begin."
As to when construction will begin, Andrew Fraser believes work will begin as early as the first week of July, but an RTA spokesman would only say 'sometime later this year'.
The project is expected to take two years and is due for completion in 2008.