Karratha-Tom Price Road works face further delay

Shannon BeattiePilbara News
Karratha to Tom Price Road.
Camera IconKarratha to Tom Price Road. Credit: Tom Zaunmayr.

A road that would halve the travel time between two major Pilbara towns is facing yet another construction delay, leaving travellers with an agonising wait.

Construction of stage three of the Karratha to Tom Price road was originally scheduled to begin in April, 2017, but delays in issuing tenders and the discovery of asbestos in the area have caused the project to be set back by more than 17 months.

At the beginning of April, Pilbara Newsreported construction of stage three would start in July, but it is now understood work will not begin for at least another three months

Main Roads spokesman Dean Roberts said the discovery of substantial surface and buried asbestos along the road had meant extra time was required for remediation, affecting the planned start date.

“Tenders for a contract to complete stage three were called in April, 2019, however, the added asbestos management complexities of the road required a longer than usual tender period,” he said.

Tenders for the project closed on Friday, with construction not expected to start until late-September, with completion expected in mid-2020.

Acting Transport Minister Fran Logan said the State Government had a responsibility to ensure the road alignment was safe before construction started.

“While it is unfortunate the discovery of asbestos and its remediation has meant the project won’t get under way as soon as hoped, it’s important to note we’re talking about a couple of months,” he said.

In reality, the project has been delayed by more than a year, which Opposition leader Liza Harvey said was just too long.

“You’re talking about a $300 million project that can’t start until the asbestos issue is solved,” she said. “That is a lot of local jobs, a lot of local employment and it’s an incredible investment in road safety that needs to happen.”

Time delays are not the only issue facing the project, with costs also increasing with every update.

Early estimates indicated the asbestos remedial works for stage three would be in excess of $1 million, but that amount is up to $4.5 million, with an additional $10 million set aside within the contract to cater for “unexpected finds”.

Currently, the State Government has invested $50 million in stage three, while the Federal Government has committed almost $250 million towards stage four.

Plans for stage four are in the works, but according to Main Roads, it will be at least two years until construction can start.

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