MOTORISTS can expect more than six months of delays when a new roundabout is finally installed at the city’s worst intersection.
Bathurst Regional Council voted on Wednesday night to finalise designs for a roundabout at the West Bathurst intersection of Mitre, Suttor and Lambert streets before calling for tenders to complete the project.
But it will be a case of medium-term pain for long-term gain for motorists who use the intersection, with engineering services director Darren Sturgiss admitting it would take up to six months to finish the job.
The project has been complicated by the need to replace – and, in some cases, relocate – extensive utility services infrastructure that sits beneath the road, with some pipes believed to be more than a century old.
“Given the complex nature and the number of services at this intersection … the construction time has certainly got to be in excess of six months and during that time there will be closures,” Mr Sturgiss said.
“I can’t say what those closures will be until we call tenders and have those programs sorted but certainly the construction time will be in excess of six months.”
And the proposal could yet face another hurdle, with question marks still over the final price tag.
Cr Warren Aubin, who has consistently opposed a roundabout at that site, indicated the tenders would likely come in well above the $1.7 million council has set aside for the project so far.
“Look, I’m not going to stand in the way of it going to tender because I think the tender price will be a lot more than we’ve put away for it so we’ll have to see what we do with the funding,” he said.
Cr Alex Christian acknowledged the project will be inconvenient for motorists, but stressed the infrastructure work would need to carried out at some point whether a roundabout went ahead or not.
He said the project should be seen as two jobs rather than one to explain the cost difference between the West Bathurst roundabout and other roundabouts that have been installed across the city in recent years.
“I want to stress the fact that these are split jobs. On one hand you have the roundabout and on the other hand you have services beneath the ground that had to be looked at anyway,” he said.
“We don’t know what’s under there. If we get a major pipe bursting there will be all sorts of issues down the track so I think it’s important that people understand that this is two jobs in one.”
Cr Christian referred again to an independent report that identified a roundabout as the best solution for the intersection
“This project will only get more expensive and be more inconvenient for people as the years go by,” he said.
“If this job was done 21 years ago it would not have cost half as much and not as many people would have been put out by the works.
“Let’s be the council that finally stops dithering and starts delivering.”
Cr Ian North, who said he had lived 60 per cent of his life living within a kilometre of the intersection, also spoke strongly in support of proceeding to tender