The controversial reconstruction of one of Wagga’s major thoroughfares, Kooringal Rd, has been pushed back to next year and will now use a new pavement design and construction method to significantly speed up work when the project resumes.
The project has been delayed a number of times – was started and then postponed – and now faces a million-dollar blowout.
However Wagga Wagga City Council believes this new approach could see an 800-metre section of Kooringal Rd finished in two weeks instead of the originally projected 10.
Council has postponed the work until January/February, citing ongoing unfavourable weather conditions and the federal government’s decision to grant an extension for the completion of all Local Road and Community Infrastructure Round One projects to 30 June 2022 because of the impacts of COVID-19.
Council’s Director Infrastructure Services Warren Faulkner confirmed the work on Kooringal Road scheduled for November and December had now been pushed back “to ensure disruption to the community is minimised”.
Mr Faulkner said regular rain events throughout spring had made conditions difficult and the forecast for continued inclement weather through to Christmas had prompted council to look at “other innovative technologies and methodologies to complete the works”.
Mr Faulkner conceded a number of factors had combined to affect the timeline of the road works.
“We are going to trial a new pavement rehabilitation methodology that utilises specialised machines to recycle and strengthen the existing pavement, thus reducing the need to remove and import significant quantities of material that takes considerable time and effort,” Mr Faulkner said.
He said he understood the community’s frustrations over the delayed road works but wanted to ensure that the works were undertaken as efficiently as possible to minimise disruption.
“It is not normal to have this many delays on one project and there’s a number of factors which have not helped council in trying to get to the end of these works,” Mr Faulkner said.
“The above average rainfall and cold temperatures we experienced in winter took its toll and we’ve seen that continue in spring.
“Building roads in winter is never ideal but we were being driven by federal funding deadlines so we had to plan to make a start in the spring to meet the 31 December finish.”
Mr Faulkner said the decision to extend the completion timeframe for round one and two projects to 30 June 2022 had given council the opportunity to defer the works until more favourable weather conditions are forecast.
He said there were many advantages to trialling the new pavement rehabilitation methodology and delaying the project until early next year for this to happen.
“Utilising this style of road building could see the 800-metre section of Kooringal Rd finished in two weeks if all goes to plan,” Mr Faulkner said.
“This is a significant difference to 10 weeks as was originally planned.
“Traffic management services will be required for less time, detours and disruptions for residents will be minimised and the adjoining road network will be under less pressure with increased traffic.
“The lead contractor has an innovative approach that is second to none and we’re confident it will leave a finished product that council, the residents and the users of Kooringal Rd will be more than satisfied with.”
Mr Faulkner said council would continue to work on patching repairs across the city but again emphasised the regular rain events had caused more surface deterioration in certain areas.
“There’s no doubt we are playing catch-up on a lot of pothole repairs,” Mr Faulkner said. “Where funding is available, we continue to do road patching maintenance and respond to residents’ customer service requests.
“We are always planning ahead for road rehabilitation projects and much of this is dependant upon funding sources from the state and federal governments.
“We continue to apply for this funding and utilise it when it becomes available, but there are limitations in funding.”
Council is currently working on the Lake Albert Road Stage Three Rehabilitation project and has completed preliminary works on Dobney Avenue and Pearson Street ready for the main scope of works to start on that project in January/February next year.