Deep Creek Bridge Project
An extract from the ‘North Burnett News’ featured in the Central and North Burnett Times, 4 October 2018.
When I signed on to do this job, one of my promises made to community was to make sure we brought about a high level of transparency, honesty and trust in the relationship between council and the public. I wanted there to be no doubt that we are doing the best job we can on your behalf. I haven’t waivered from this mindset and it is with this that I have to clarify a matter which is doing the rounds…a budget overrun on the Deep Creek Bridge replacement. So bear with me whilst I explain the matter.
In July this year we completed the Deep Creek Bridge replacement. The bridge was replaced to improve flood immunity on the Gayndah- Mundubberra Road and has achieved this most important aim. This road is an important freight route and a traffic count earlier this year saw Gayndah-Mundubbera Road having more traffic than the Burnett Hwy. The initial estimate to construct this bridge was $5.85m. Council officers reviewed that estimate and determined that the bridge could be completed for around $4.4m (we always try to save money wherever possible, and at the time the savings looked achievable). Council applied for and received funding under the Federal Government’s Bridges Renewal Program in the amount of $2.2m dollars. Having secured the funding Council determined to proceed with the project understanding that Council would have to find the balance of the funding. This of course was not our preferred option and so council applied for a State Government grant to match the Federal Government funding and was successful in securing a further $2.2m from the State Government toward the cost which meant that the bridge was then fully funded by the State and Federal Governments (ie: at no cost to ratepayers – which is always our preferred option when it comes to infrastructure).
Unfortunately during the construction of the bridge and approaches a number of unforeseen matters arose (including the positioning of a Telstra cable which would have had a significant effect on local residents and businesses if moved) which led to changes to the scope of the work on the approaches and to the expected unit rates for the work not being achieved. This resulted in the final cost of the project being in the order of $5m which is still less than the initial estimate given to Council but more than we expected, meaning rate payers have paid $600,000 towards this $5m project.
Whilst we are extremely disappointed that the bridge could not be fully funded solely through external sources we have never the less contributed less that we initially anticipated (given that we would have had to have paid $2.2 million to match the Federal funding if we weren’t successful with the State funding). Overruns do not sit well with councilors and as such a full review of the project was undertaken by an external party and the recommendations from that review have formed the basis of improvements to our project management framework going forward.
Additionally, Council in its recruitment of its new CEO and Works General Managers has employed people with extensive backgrounds in project management in both private and public sector environments. They are progressing the recommendations contained in the external review and introducing a robust project management framework across all Council projects. We look forward to delivering great projects for the community and achieving our corporate value of “getting things done well, on time and within budget” as well as maintaining our honest and transparent relationship with you all.
Talk soon, Rachel.