GREATER Taree City Council mayor Paul Hogan has apologised for the Old Bar Road “mess”, but asks residents to be patient as he believes an end is in sight.
He has pointed out that council is the administrator of the project, not the contractor, and stressed that delays in completing the project are not costing ratepayers extra money.
“We only have the administrative role in ensuring the performance of the contractor in providing the completed project to our specific requirements,” he said. “Until such time as there is a satisfactory conclusion the contractor will not be paid the final figure.”
Cr Hogan said on Wednesday he fully understood “the inconvenience and the frustration everyone using Old Bar Road has been under.”
He had just made another personal inspection of the 1.7kms of the road east of the Pacific Highway overpass and witnessed what he hopes will be the final patching of the disturbed surface of a protective coat applied to the re-constructed section.
Even as he carried out his inspection – recorded by a Times photographer – the mayor fielded more comments from passing motorists about the road’s condition.
Traffic has been restricted to one lane during working hours throughout most of the project, leading to long queues of frustrated commuters.
Cr Hogan said he had been “taking it up with the appropriate staff, daily, at the request of the community”.
He explained that the protective coat was laid five weeks ago, and at that time it had been hoped the project would soon afterwards have been completed with the laying of the final AC (asphaltic concrete) coat.
Mother Nature had other ideas, the mayor said, and the resulting delay in applying the AC coat had led to serious disturbance of the initial protective coating.
That’s the reason people are seeing potholes being patched over potholes, he said.
Next Wednesday is now scheduled as the start date of the final AC coat, with completion due on August 28.
“So the contractors have one week in which to get it into shape.”
He said Old Bar Road was one of “three vital projects” where deadlines had been pushed out as they await the right conditions for the final asphaltic concrete. The others he named as Bushland Drive and Cowper Street.
Cr Hogan repeated his assurance that delays in finishing jobs such as Old Bar Road are not costing ratepayers additional funds.
“There is no way that is going to happen under council’s new system of tendering and awarding of contracts,” he said.
“Previously where deadlines were pushed out, that additional cost would have been with council. Now it is with the contractors.
“The onus is on the contractors, and they don’t get paid until the job is completed to our satisfaction.
“The unfortunate cost to the community now, however, is the inconvenience, not the dollars.
“I do agree it is unfortunate, but the fact is, we are not paying the extra.
“No final payments are made until 100 per cent completion.”