At last there has been a little transparency around how executive Council staff are managing the beleaguered Byron bypass project.
Slated at $24m, a costing breakdown has now become available after repeated requests. Currently the project is delayed owing to Council not following proper process.
With no councillor appearing to be concerned at the lack of accountability over the figures, Council watcher John Anderson asked the following question at Council’s ordinary meeting, held on November 28, 2019.
Anderson asked, ‘Will the Council finally realise that the issue of costs for the bypass is not going to go away and accordingly provide ratepayers with a fulsome breakdown of actual and proposed outlays in terms of legal costs, consultants, construction, noise, insulation etc so that the total of $25 million doesn’t invite ongoing speculation and suspicion about bad faith?’
The question was taken on notice by the mayor, and Council’s director of Infrastructure Services, Phil Holloway later replied in a statement – which is available online at Council’s website. The breakdown did not appear to include the cost of acquiring lands at the end of Jonson Street.
The project budget is as follows:
Concept Design, Environmental Assessment, Detailed Design, JRPP, Land & Environment Court Case: $2,018,045.
Planning, Approvals, Survey and Design (including design, management and planning costs): $600,000.
Design update and pre-construction documentation: $135,000.
Civil Construction Contract: $13,575,023.
Service relocations and new services: $1,809,500.
Additional works, including noise mitigation: $2,069,600.
BSC Internal Administration and Project Management: $435,121.
Construction Contract Management and Administration: $490,500.
The project is behind schedule despite Council refusing a request by former mayor and state MLC Jan Barham to delay the accepting contracts to investigate the ecological impacts.
John Anderson told Echonetdaily, ‘The answers provided by Council staff are hardly fulsome; they avoid detail and raise more questions than they answer’.
Further questions have been put to Council staff and Echonetdaily will publish them should a reply be given.
They are: ‘Does this amount include GST? What are the ‘additional works’ where noise mitigation is claimed to be $2,069,600? What are ‘Service relocations and new services’? Is it laying of electricity cables and the like? If not, what are they? Will a further breakdown of ‘BSC Internal Administration and Project Management $435,121’ be available, ie, how many staff are involved and what their roles are? Why aren’t those general costs undertaken by staff? Is cost for the delays in the project coming from the contingency breakdown of $2,867,211? Can contingency please be defined? The Echo understands that contingency for similar projects is generally around 10 per cent, yet this is a higher figure’.