Significant cost blow out to South Rockhampton flood levee
SOUTH Rockhampton's long awaited flood levee has run into funding trouble with the council revealing that it needed an extra $30 million within weeks to deliver the project.
With the future Rockhampton Ring Road set to be constructed at ground level, and closing during flooding events, having an option to flood proof Rockhampton's southern entrance at Gladstone Road lies at the heart of a cost over-run for the levee bank.
In her Morning Bulletin column today, Rockhampton Region mayor Margaret Strelow detailed the two options for flood-proofing Gladstone Road - South Rockhampton Flood Levee and raising of Gladstone Road - which were both originally estimated to cost $60 million each.
Cr Strelow said a cost escalation in both cases had come about through more detailed design being prepared and the passage of time raising the price tag rise firstly to $70 million, and now to just over $100 million each.
In the council's budget for 2019-2020, an extra $20 million was set aside to cover the levee project, taking its total commitment to $30 million.
When added to $25 million each from the state and federal governments, the $80 million would still fall $30 million short of the estimated $110million to complete the project.
"Prices don't often go down the longer you leave things, we need to choose between them," Cr Strelow said.
"(Weighing up the alternatives) it would seem a no-brainer. Excepting the devil is in the detail of who pays for what."
When questioned about potential cost over run on Thursday, she said, "this is far too important a project for us to make significant decisions on the run ... we will take some time for councillors to consider options and for us to meet with other levels of government".
The mayor's column made a compelling case why the different levels of government should contribute an additional $15 million to support the flood-proofing levee project rather than raising Gladstone Road.
In further complication, timing was revealed to be critical, with Cr Strelow saying the additional state and federal money was needed within a matter of weeks.
"We know that this is a big sum of money. But we are so close. So close in fact that the call on whether to proceed with the project must be made within the next two to three weeks," she said.
"We had already embarked on a lot of the preliminary work towards appointing a contract and without an answer to our request we need to stand down our project team."
Infrastructure Minister Michael McCormack indicated a willingness to look at further funding options to supplement his government's $25 million commitment under the Regional Growth Fund.
"I have asked the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Government to work with the Rockhampton Regional Council to identify options to progress the project," Mr McCormack said.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk had previously described the merits of a levee project, which protected people's property and people's homes, as a "no brainer".
During her visit to Rockhampton on Wednesday she said, "I think council now has a much bigger scale and that wasn't in the initial funding proposal".
"(Either they need to find more funding) or they need to scope it back down to fit the funding," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"We've got people working on it at the moment, but it would need federal support."
Infrastructure Minister Cameron Dick said he wasn't aware of any formal request from the mayor.
"This is a Rockhampton Regional Council led project. (They) have developed the business case and are responsible for the delivery of the project."