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A preliminary roundabout design for the Carrs Drive and Yamba Road intersection. Image: CVC

Access Yamba project ‘expected’ to exceed budget

Geoff Helisma|

A progress report on the $5.7million ‘Access Yamba’ project – three roundabouts in Yamba and a ‘channelized’ intersection at Palmers Island – has revealed that “it is … expected that the existing budget will be exceeded”.

Back in February this year, Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis announced that Clarence Valley Council (CVC) had won a $4.4million Restart NSW grant to upgrade Yamba Road “to improve traffic flows and ease traffic congestion during peak tourism periods”.

In a report tabled at yesterday’s CVC meeting (after the Independent went to press) staff highlighted two problems: “the full extent and cost for this land acquisition has not been accurately realised in the original budget costing and funding allowed for the works”; and, “due to the tight geometric constraints and the excavation depth required for the pavement construction, extensive re-locations and upgrades will be required for Electrical, Telstra, NBN and Water services at each of the projects”.

On these two issues, staff advised that councillors would receive further reports when the financial “impacts are better quantified”.

When asked if the project would still go ahead as currently envisioned if the budget blew out too far, CVC general manager Ashley Lindsay said that a “proper budget” would be developed once “detailed designs” were completed.

“I’m not going to speculate; this is just alerting council[lors] and the community that the desire to have roundabouts is going to cost,” he said.

“The investigation uncovered a lot more service relocations [than expected] at the various sites.

“And we need to purchase [several] properties, which is the subject of another report in the [CVC meeting] agenda.”

On the service relocations, staff advised: “Whilst the design is not currently complete and the full scope of relocations is not clear, there is a significant risk that there will be financial and time impacts.”

And on the intersection treatments: “Preliminary detailed cost estimates … [have] shown that there is a significant risk that the construction cost of the works will be more than the budget for the projects.”

Staff also advised that the “construction period is likely to extend beyond the current grant approval” (January 31, 2021) and that, while “these issues have been raised during the monthly reporting to Restart NSW … a variation request has not yet been submitted”.

Currently, CVC staff estimated the project would be completed in June 2021.

On the difficulties regarding conforming intersection designs, staff wrote: “The available land area and tight site constraints at the Treelands Drive intersection have required a smaller roundabout than the minimum size as detailed in Austroads Guide to Road Design.

“A full list of design departures and compliance issues will be developed, documented and considered in the road safety risk assessment and safety in design process.

“Any significant risks will be reported to Council for further consideration.”

Clarence Valley Council is currently negotiating to acquire property to facilitate the project at Palmers Island (Yamba Road/Yamba Street intersection) and the Treelands, Carrs and Shores drives intersections with Yamba Road.

Staff advised councillors: “Negotiations for the acquisition of the required land are currently under way.

“The full extent and cost for this land acquisition has not been accurately realised in the original budget costing and funding allowed for the works.

“When these impacts are better quantified they will be reported to Council.”

The Carrs Drive intersection will most likely be the most expensive compulsory acquisition.

The owners of that block of land have engaged legal representation to negotiate on their behalf.

However, “if an agreement is not reached [with the various landholders] and compulsory acquisition is commenced, then the compensation will be determined by the Valuer General”, the report to council advised.