Bypass facing cost inquiry

QUEENSLAND government officials have denied suggestions of a major construction cost blow-out of the Tugun bypass despite an inquiry being launched into the controversial project.

The Queensland Department of Main Roads was informed on Monday of the inquiry, which will be conducted by the Queensland Parliament Public Works Committee (PWC).

News reports earlier this week suggested the inquiry had been formed to probe into the Tugun bypass project's "cost blowouts", but a Main Roads spokesman yesterday said the project was on budget and ahead of schedule.

"The cost estimate of $543 million has not altered since the project commencement," the spokesman said.

"Prior to commencement, lengthy delays in securing the necessary environmental and development approvals from the various jurisdictions resulted in some cost escalation, but this was in-line with prevailing conditions.

"The Tugun bypass project is progressing ahead of expectations. It is currently on budget and is now scheduled for completion almost six months ahead of schedule."

Main Roads staff are currently preparing de-tailed responses to the PWC's questions.

PWC Chair Barbara Stone, who will head the inquiry, said the committee chose four projects at random, including the Tugun bypass.

"We've also picked the Suncorp Stadium project, Roma Street Fire and Ambulance Station and the Sir David Longland Correctional Centre project (all in Brisbane)," Ms Stone said.

"We look at the purpose, suitability, the necessity, value for money and the costs of each project.

"We will then inspect the works and call for public submissions.

"We will look at costs and if there is a blowout we will look at that too."

Ms Stone could not say when the inquiry would be completed.

Excavations for the 334-metre tunnel under the Gold Coast Airport have recently been completed, with tunnel floors now being installed.

Bridgeworks along the seven-kilometre route are either completed (Tugun Hill) or nearing completion (twin Hidden Valley bridges).

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