$1.3m in doubt as council all but gives up on flood bypass
GLADSTONE Regional Council could lose out on $1.3 million from the State Government altogether after all but dropping plans to construct a much-needed bypass on the Gladstone-Monto Road.
The State Government in August announced it would allocate $1.3 million under the Royalties for Region program for a bypass road which would run near Nellie-Simpson Road and give Boyne Valley residents a way out in the event of flooding.
However, by late last year the council all but gave up on the plan, baulking at costs in excess of the $1.3 million offered for the road.
The bypass road is a hot topic in the Boyne Valley, with the Gladstone-Monto Road flooding regularly when the Awoonga Dam overflows.
Late last week independent MP Liz Cunningham asked Transport Minister Scott Emerson if the funding would still be available if the council decided to go another route.
Mr Emerson refused to give a guarantee on the funding, but said the council now had "a different view" of the project, something which council CEO Stuart Randle has confirmed.
"The $1.3 million was a concept estimate, a ballpark estimate," Mr Randle said.
"As we did a bit of detail, a bit of on-ground investigation, we found the cost to build even the lowest standard of unsealed bypass would be over $2 million, and given that it's a State Government road we think it's not something we should be putting ratepayer funds into to make up the difference."
Boyne Valley resident Neville Mossman was one of the people trapped in the Valley by floods, and pointed the finger squarely at the council.
"I feel the council didn't actually think they were going to get the money, investigated doing it properly and then found out it would cost too much. They stuffed up with this whole thing."
Mr Randle confirmed that the council was now investigating an alternative for the funding, such as putting the money into an upgrade of Blackman's Gap Road, but said whether it still received the funding was a decision for the state government.
"We've realised that the project as originally proposed is not viable for $1.3 million, and the State Government together with council have to make a decision on what, if anything, is done instead," Mr Randle said.
"The ball is in the state government's court. We would hope they would hear us out, but at the moment we're still investigating alternatives."
- JULY 2013 - Council estimates emergency bypass would cost $400,000
- AUGUST 2013 - State Government pledges $1.3 million for bypass
- SEPTEMBER-DECEMBER 2013 - Council investigates bypass further, finds it would cost $2 million