Ballina bypass cost blows out to $640m

THE State Budget has revealed a blow-out in the cost of the Ballina bypass to $640 million.

The State Government yesterday announced $110 million to be spent on the project in the next financial year.

However, it was also revealed the total cost of the bypass was now estimated at $640 million - up from $446 million predicted as the cost last month and $271 million suggested in December 2006.

Ballina MP Don Page said the new figure was way beyond what had been expected in the past.

"It is interesting to see the cost blowing out so much. It highlights the need to get on with it," Mr Page said.

"Even the Alstonville bypass cost has gone up to $101 million. That's up substantially on the $36 million originally estimated for the bypass."

He said the increasing cost of labour was to blame for the blow-out.

"The planning has finished, so it's the construction that's costing more," he said.

"The cost of construction is getting more and more expensive, and it's tied up with the resources boom."

Ballina Bypass Action Group chairman, Cr Alan Brown, said the blow-out worried him, but he wasn't surprised.

"If they had got on with it earlier this wouldn't have occurred," Cr Brown said.

"I'm concerned the cost has gone up so high without the general public being made aware of it, but I'm pretty optimistic it will all happen.

"They've got to go through with it now."

Land clearing for the bypass at Ross Lane and Teven Road is scheduled to begin next month.

The 12.4km bypass will be opened in stages with the Cumbalum-to-Ross Lane section scheduled for late 2010, and the opening of the Bruxner Highway-to-Cumbalum interchange to follow in mid-2012.

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