THE mismanagement of the Archer River bridge project is starting to be felt across the Cape as PDR sealing projects are put on hold as a result of the cost blowouts.
Cape York Weekly has made a number of attempts to line up an interview with Minister for Transport and Main Roads Mark Bailey, but he hasn’t taken up the opportunity to answer the community’s questions.
It’s a sure sign that things are not going well with the upgrades to the Peninsula Developmental Road, which has lost all momentum after years of steady gains.
Most of the fault can be attributed to the two projects at the Archer River.
Both the construction of the new bridge and the southern approaches have hit setbacks.
Western Australian company Decmil won the tender to build the approaches but didn’t get the job finished before the wet season and won’t be returning.
Sources told Cape York Weekly that Decmil decided that the cost of breaching its contract with TMR would be less than the cost of returning to finish the job.
In a statement, a company spokesperson said: “Decmil has no outstanding contractual obligations relating to the Archer River Project and further queries regarding the project’s situation should be directed to the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads.”
When TMR was asked about Decmil, it simply ignored that part of the question.
“It is anticipated construction crews will soon be recommencing works for Archer River Crossing Southern Approach project,” a TMR spokesperson said on Monday.
“It is expected the project will be completed by late 2023, weather and construction conditions permitting.”
The Archer River bridge was supposed to have been finished last year, according to tender documents seen by Cape York Weekly.
However, McConnell Dowell, which was awarded the job, has now pushed the completion date back to late next year.
Part of the problem is that a study of the Archer River failed to uncover issues until the McConnell Dowell team turned up on site last year.
All of it has cost millions of dollars, which means projects are being scrapped.
An angry Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch is ropeable about some of the reports he is hearing about the PDR.
“I’m seriously alarmed in the way some of the contracts have been handled,” he said.
“I’m equally concerned about the lack of transparency from TMR.”
Mr Entsch has been one of the biggest supporters of the PDR sealing works, which are 80 per cent federally funded, with the rest covered by the state.
“I’m told that one of the next sealing projects was 30km south of Coen called Three Sisters,” he said.
“It was put up for tender in January and there is still no word on what’s happening.
“The word I’m hearing is that it’s likely to be withdrawn because its over budget.
“TMR currently has no work out for tender and I’m told that contractors have been informed that there will be very little work coming their way over the next 12 to 24 months.”
THERE is a public meeting in Weipa tomorrow (Wednesday) to discuss the PDR upgrades and Mr Entsch will be attending.
“I’ve taken the time to fly up because I want answers, just like the rest of the Cape,” he said.
“TMR needs to provide answers as to what has gone wrong at the Archer and where the money has gone for other sealing projects.
“The PDR is Cape York’s main road and there’s been so much progress made in the last five or six years.”
Before the package, there was almost 500km of unsealed road between Weipa and Laura.
There’s now less than 250km of dirt road on the PDR.
Members of the public can attend tomorrow’s public meeting in Weipa, to be hosted by Regional Development Australia Tropical North.
It will be held at the council chambers from 9.30am.