NEARLY DONE: Warrego Hwy upgrades along the eastern approach to Chinchilla.
NEARLY DONE: Warrego Hwy upgrades along the eastern approach to Chinchilla. Matthew Newton

Minister weighs in on Chinchilla-Brigalow roadworks as 19 month construction nears completion

THE Chinchilla to Brigalow stretch of roadworks will be complete by Monday, May 15 and returned to its original 100km/h speed limit.

That's sure to be welcome news for road users, who have suffered through 19 months of roadworks - more than double the originally planned 9-month project length.

Minister for Main Roads and Road Safety Mark Bailey said he had been briefed on the issues around the Brigalow to Chinchilla upgrade of the Warrego Highway.

"I've been advised that the contractor has experienced a range of issues during construction related to construction practices and the effects of wet weather and that TMR has been working through these issues with the contractor,” he said.

"This has had an unfortunate impact on the community, particularly motorists who have been subject to extended speed restrictions through the full 11 kilometres of the project.

"I can appreciate this has been a frustrating time, and I'd like to thank all those impacted for their patience.”

Minister Bailey added he had been advised that savings to the project are in the order of $6 million, which "will be reinvested in other works on the Warrego Highway.”

Transport and Main Roads have repeatedly blamed wet weather for the delays, but the Chinchilla News revealed in December last year that was only part of the story.

A TMR briefing note written for the Federal Department of Infrastructure (which provided 80% of the funding for the road upgrade project) and obtained by the Chinchilla News said there were: "Technical issues with foam bitumen (materials and construction processes), as well as wet weather has delayed the completion of this project”.

"In preparation for the final foam bitumen base layer, stockpiles of base gravel have been stored under cover. Provided water is excluded from the manufacture of the foam bitumen product, laying the gravel should not be hindered by further rain events in the lead up to Christmas,” the note reads.

The project was originally budgeted for $36 million in the 2015/16 financial year, but that was upped to $36.9 million in 2016/17 due to "extra lane widening added during final design stages”.

"As previously outlined, the change in project cost was due to extra lane widening added during final design stages. The re-scope of works removed an initial side-track option for traffic management during works and replaced it with permanent widening for the majority of the length of the project,” Minister Bailey said.

"The resultant 13.5 metre wide road surface allows for overtaking lanes, right turn lanes into side roads, truck stopping places and school bus stops. These changes will deliver a safer environment for road users.”

The Brigalow to Chinchilla highway upgrade is part of the $635 million Warrego Highway Upgrade Program (WHUP) funded 80% by the Australian Government and 20% by the Queensland Government.